Natalie is very bright and focused on her future - she has big dreams. The one thing, above all, that she would like to see herself doing is giving back to her community.
Natalie has been coming to Skateistan for four years and she has a strong relationship with her Educator, Wendy. Although Natalie has always been good at school, she couldn’t work out a way to plan for her future. As the end of high school approached, Natalie was feeling nervous about how to build a life for herself.
Here she tells us about how things have changed for her at Skateistan, what she’s dreaming of for the future, and the role model who helped her along the way.
My perceptions towards life have changed since I joined Skateistan in 2016. It has given me the opportunity to know more than what I already knew about life and taught me to think outside the box, to be open to the world and be open to growth.
I remember when I was really confused about my career path and which tertiary institutions to further my studies at. Miss Wendy [Natalie's Educator] really helped and showed me that there was really a variety of career options to apply for. I have learned not to rush the process but simply to try my best in everything I do. My efforts will never go unnoticed. Since this is my last year in high school, I want to study a Bsc Biokinetics at University of Johannesburg or Medicine at the University of the Witwatersrand next year.
There was a moment in time when Miss Wendy shared with me that she did not allow her financial situation to stop her from achieving her dreams between covering for her studies and being a young adult. She started as a volunteer and went on to be a part-time educator at Skateistan, and a waitress on weekends during her first year of studies. She knows what it means to work hard and she never let anything put her off. She continues to inspire me for the work she does for the younger students at Skateistan and this community.
In turn, Wendy reflects on Natalie’s progress:
I see my younger self in Natalie; the pressure of being the first child, having to achieve so much and setting a good example for others but also having so much ambition, dedication and working hard for the things we want. When I was younger I needed guidance and mentors, but my community lacked such people. Growing up – I was my own role model. Like Natalie, I had dreams beyond my community – I still do. I am simply there for Natalie, someone I needed when I was younger and I am glad I can fulfil that role for her. And for me, that is the biggest blessing. I know what it takes to get to a place where I want to be. So I want to be a stepping stone for each and everyone of them, to achieve their dreams.
Skateistan is aiming to raise $75,000 by the end of July so that we can provide more spaces where girls like Natalie are supported, encouraged and celebrated. Donate today to show girls that they can be whatever they dream of being. It's Her Turn.
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*Natalie's name has been changed in accordance with Skateistan's Child Protection Policy.