Aspiring to improve others’ lives
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.