Amira, aged 15, is a talented musician. We paid for further flute lessons and for her to perform in her school’s musical tour of Germany. We are delighted also that after our nomination, Amira has also been selected by Brighton and Hove Rotary to take part in their Rotary Young Leaderships programme in Guildford in April 2018. The week long course, designed to develop the talents of those held back by lack of confidence, offers young people one of the most rewarding experiences of their lives by developing qualities of leadership, team working, initiative and problem solving at the start of their careers.
We have funded Amira to enable her to travel to Paris with her school orchestra as well as pay for flute lessons to enable her to work towards her flute exams. Amira says: “This is one of the best pieces of news I’ve had! It means I’ll be able to keep pursuing my passion for the arts and I’ll be able to find a way of having time to myself and away from my caring role which is a big part of my life.”
Amira has achieved a lot in the last few months. In November 2018, she won the BBC Young Achievers Award. Amira has continued to be supported by the Rotary, who were impressed by her when we put her forward for their Leadership course in 2017. The Rotary supported her to take part in their Young Playwrights course, in which aspiring young playwrights aged 16-25 explored the possibilities of writing for performance in this 8-week course facilitated by a leading professional playwright and run by Theatre Royal Brighton in association with New Writing South. Amira’s play My Last Three Brain Cells, a satirical commentary on diet culture and the issues surrounding the diet mentality, was read by professional actors in a promenade performance around the Theatre Royal. Amira says “it was unreal to see my work actually performed. I never thought I could have my work in the theatre and I’m so thankful for the opportunity”. Amira has been selected to have further work experience with the project leader Sara.
A huge thank you to Rochelle and Accordance VAT for the latest Champion’s Chat. Rochelle, who is Facilities Manager at the company along with her colleagues Louise and Anita, gave invaluable advice to Champions Jay, Sophie and Amira on how to write a CV – and how to get it noticed when they apply for jobs. They were given tips on job boards, what to include in a CV, and what puts employers off. The Champions were treated to a tour of Accordance VAT’s fabulous Brighton offices, and went home with an advice pack, which will be of great practical use when they start to apply for work. We are excited to look at other subjects that Accordance will present on for future Champions’ Chats. Watch this space! Thank you Rochelle, Louise and Anita.
Amira spoke recently at the Brighton and Hove Soiree Rotary Club Youth Festival weekend about the amazing week she had on their Leadership course in April. Read her brilliant blog below:
Sunday: it’s a whirl of new people, learning new things every second.
Monday: I tend to have to really push myself to socialise. I think I could happily sit there in my own mind for an hour and be fine. However, this isn’t what the week is about for me. I don’t WANT to let myself drift, I want to be present in each moment. I’m starting to settle in with people in my cabin - it’s easy to relax with them. We watched School of Rock yesterday and I was able to find out how many people loved the film as much as I do. Even this small similarity among us is enough to rouse some form of unity. Not to mention, I do need someone to sing along with me.
Tuesday: the pain of the walk is some of the worst pain I’ve had. It’s the feeling of being a disappointment to, not just myself, but also to the team. I know they all support me. I can’t help wishing I wasn’t myself at times like this. It’s now where I realise in this case my best is below average and that isn’t up to my standards. However, some part of me knows I’ll make it. I can’t see myself giving up. I know it hurts (and perhaps hurt is an understatement) but I know we’ll all make it as a team. I’ve gained respect for them. They’ve shown me kindness despite their own frustrations and fatigue and I’m so happy to be part of this team. P.s. I’ve never been so happy to see warm food before. I’ll never take it for granted again. Also: running water?! I’m in paradise!!! However, worst sleep ever. So cold. So rainy.
Wednesday: I’ve discovered the extent of an injury I picked up somehow yesterday during the 15km. I remember falling into a black thorn bush… it was probably that. My finger is so swollen I can barely bend it, which made raft building a struggle. I realised that in my head my team was always going to succeed. I never doubted it and when I had realised that many other teams had failed to create a sturdy raft I think I held our accomplishment tighter. The idea of not getting our raft to work just never crossed my mind and I guess that just shows the trust I have in my team. The gala dinner was tonight. I watched on wistfully as the other talented musicians went on to play a beautiful rendition of riptide and I longed to join them. However, I wasn’t confident to stand up there without the barrier of my ukulele (which my badly injured finger made it impossible to play). I think they did an amazing job. So many talented people here! My injury also gave my a chance to step back, try something new. I joined the setup team and we planned and perfected the transformation of the hall into a place suitable for a three course meal which we (thankfully) did not have to cook. The food was lovely and the atmosphere was light. I get very emotionally invested in such things which is good and bad in itself. I really learnt how to do something new. I guess that injury happened for a reason. At dinner I managed to talk to people about their past experiences of leadership. A boy in my group had volunteered to lead the night and had not been voted in and I sat and listened to how he felt he was able to contribute more than the leader that had been. One of the girls from my group told him he needed to speak up and get the recognition he deserved. She told us about how she used to act out in school, upset at the lack of support she was getting. She felt alone. She felt that no one would acknowledge what she did anyhow so she stopped caring. Now she’s about to get offered a scholarship for the college of her dreams. She’s head girl. She told me I needed to speak up, to show everyone the things I can do. I talked to her about how I felt on the walk to which she told me that everyone struggles with something. However, I think it’s different when that something is so physical. You feel as if your body will physically fail you. The word disabled echoes around my head sometimes. I don’t know about how I feel in terms of using that to describe myself. We went back to our cabins and we all sat watching a film. Everyone asked me to sing for them and we ended up all singing together. It felt so nice to hear people enjoy something I’ve worked so hard on. I’m so glad to have such lovely people around. P.s. I’ve met this person who’s never tried herbal tea and is mesmerised by all the cool flavours and colours. We’re officially tea buddies.
Friday: Last night tonight. I performed a solo song and it felt amazing to be there. Someone even offered to play guitar for me. It was so strange having nothing to hide behind. It was so new. I think I’ll try it more. I’ll miss the atmosphere here the most. I think I’ve been pushed so hard mentally and physically, but in the end it’s all mental really. If you really wanna do it, you can. We’ve all proved that for sure. I’ve definitely proved that to myself. I’m so lucky to have come here.
Our Champions Outreach Manager Mel and Starr Trust Ambassador Claire were delighted to be invited to Brighton and Hove Soiree Rotary Club’s Youth Festival on 28th April at the Barge on Brighton Marina. The event, which celebrated the contributions made by the Club to its youth projects, featured a short presentation from Amira who recently took part in their Leadership Course in Guildford.