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.

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