As­pir­ing to im­prove oth­ers’ lives

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By CAYLA-FAY SAUN­DERS

A men­tor­ing pro­gramme for teenage girls in Western Springs is help­ing young women grow their con­fi­dence.

Casey Radley runs a sev­en­week pro­gramme called As­pire at TAPAC in Mo­tions Rd. It’s a non-profit – the fee she charges goes into venue hire and al­lows her to of­fer the pro­gramme to those who can’t af­ford it and need it most.

‘‘I want to see [th­ese girls] grow into their con­fi­dence. I want to see them take own­er­ship of the de­ci­sions that they make, and be able to learn from it.’’

Radley is a for­mer beauty queen and won Miss Word In­ter­na­tional NZ last year.

As the girls chat and fill in work­sheets, Radley sits cross­legged on the floor with them. She en­cour­ages them to think of per­son­al­ity traits they don’t like about them­selves and put a pos­i­tive spin on them.

Radley started As­pire to help teenage girls do well in school and draws on her own ex­pe­ri­ence.

‘‘I got my­self in­volved in so many things, I found it hard to stay mo­ti­vated in school. I got picked on for be­ing that per­son who did ev­ery­thing.

‘‘I ba­si­cally wanted to cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment where girls didn’t think it was un­cool to suc­ceed.’’

As the work­shop pro­ceeds, Radley gets down on the floor with the girls. She lies on her stom­ach, smil­ing broadly and talks with them about con­nect­ing to their in­ner dreams. She en­cour­ages them to think about who they are and what they want for them­selves.

She says be­ing as­sertive is key.

‘‘Have the con­fi­dence in them­selves, that if some­one is pick­ing on them to go, ‘Cool, thanks for your opin­ion, I don’t agree with you’ and to walk away.’’

The girls be­gin open­ing up dur­ing the 90-minute ses­sion. They are busy writ­ing who they hope to be in 10 years’ time, with Radley whis­per­ing ‘‘be cre­ative’’ to spur them on.

Coun­sel­lor Bron­wyn Bur­rowes agrees that hav­ing low self­es­teem is a prob­lem for young girls.

‘‘I get some­thing like 40 new clients a year. Of those, I would say seven a year would be young girls with low self-es­teem.

‘‘I’m also see­ing older adults that had self-es­teem prob­lems as chil­dren. They’ve been young teenagers who haven’t dealt with their self-es­teem is­sues.’’

Radley is study­ing psy­chol­ogy and dreams of start­ing up her own prac­tice while con­tin­u­ing to men­tor young women into bet­ter emo­tional health.

- Cayla-Fay Saun­ders is an AUT jour­nal­ism stu­dent

In­spir­ing oth­ers: Casey Radley helps teenage girls in­crease their con­fi­dence through a men­tor­ing pro­gramme called As­pire.

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