Generous to a T
CARMEN Chan has proved naysayers wrong by successfully completing a challenge most teenagers would shy away from.
The 19-year-old medical student has just finished a year wearing essentially the same shirt to raise awareness for children’s charity Kidney Kids.
Her choice of wardrobe was limited to one of 10 different coloured T-shirts all emblazoned with ‘‘i am carmen’’.
‘‘A lot of people thought I couldn’t do it,’’ the Epsom resident says.
‘‘But I’ve grown fond of them over the year. My friends thought I was insane. My parents thought I was really insane when I started sleeping in them. The only thing I didn’t do in them was shower.’’
Miss Chan says she may slip on one of the T-shirts occasionally for old time’s sake, but for now she is ecstatic to be back in regular clothing. ‘‘It’s surreal actually.’’ The ‘‘I Am Challenge’’ is part of a global movement that sees young people commit to wearing T-shirts with their names printed on them for a variety of reasons.
Miss Chan took on the campaign to raise awareness for a worthy charity and also to challenge herself.
‘‘It basically means that I am not afraid to show myself as a person, for who I am, irrespective of what I wear. It’s challenging myself to be who I am as a person, rather than clothing.’’
The teenager endured many awkward scenarios during the year but stayed true to her cause.
‘‘Some days it was easy just putting on something and not having to think about it, but other times it was incredibly difficult.
‘‘I’ve done so much in it – I found out I got into medical school while wearing it, I went hiking in China in it,’’ she says.
‘‘I went to my first cocktail party in it. Basically everything.’’
She says as the challenge unfolded she witnessed great kindness from strangers.
‘‘After clubbing I wrote a blog and someone read it, and afterwards she sent me a message and basically emptied out her bank account to support Kidney Kids.’’
Kidney Kids is a longstanding non-profit organisation that helps children living with kidney or urinary tract disease.
The charity supports children and their families by providing information, support and annual kids’ camps.
Spokeswoman Jo Morgan says staff members are all touched by Miss Chan’s selfless act.
‘‘It’s a big ask for anyone to do this, especially for a young female where there can be so many pressures to wear the latest thing,’’ Ms Morgan says.
‘‘To forfeit her outward persona or individuality for a whole year is just incredible. This says a lot about this lovely young woman and how caring she is,’’ Miss Chan says.
She has so far raised more than $1300 for Kidney Kids, but is still taking donations.
Sartorial success: Carmen Chan says it feels ‘‘surreal’’ to be back in regular clothes after wearing the same thing for a year.
Bonded: Carmen with Elliot Goldfinch who was diagnosed with a rare kidney condition in July last year and was supported by Kidney Kids charity.