Ashleigh’s story – six months of pioneering leadership among teenagers in Dublin

Just Ashleigh Google Day ‘We owe it to each other to tell stories’ and there are many stories that I want to share from my first six months in Dublin’s fair city.

I started my journey here taking time to get a feel of my new surroundings, being introduced to a collection of inspiring people and falling in love with this city, which I am now beginning to call home.  I love the natural warmth and open hospitality of Dubliners. From a local café owner to the young teenagers who have weaved themselves into my heart to the strangers who I know call my friends, I have been bowled over by genuine acceptance and love.

But why I came here in the first place and why I am hoping that this journey will last is my experience in coming on board as an intern with Innovista in September 2012.

I moved to Dublin because I am deeply passionate about seeing young people from disadvantaged backgrounds discover that they are of worth and that they have the potential to see and experience positive change in their lives. Focusing on developing and piloting Innovista’s youth leadership program, Rise has enabled me to work with such young people and see their potential to thrive begin to be realised.

Our first pilot in a local boys school in Dublin 8 has provided a means for entering into the life of the community in which I live, where these boys have grown up,  and has broken down any stereotypes or reservations I may have had about engaging and relating with 14-year-old boys from inner city Dublin. They are hard work at times but I love them!

Dublin City-20121120-00339

Reflecting back on these past six months, I am excited to have met some incredible people doing transformational work among communities and teenagers here, some of which I have had the privilege of being a part of, most frequently as a mentor to Melissa.

Melissa is a 13-year-old girl from Dublin 8 who dreams of becoming either a politician or an astrophysicist (oh the decisions!) but whose dreams could easily be trampled upon when living in an area where most people don’t care about further education or see the point in believing that they could go on to achieve something like this. It encourages me to see her strive for more and I love being a part of her journey, helping her to see that this can be a reality for her despite her circumstances and surroundings.

Even with the great work going on, there is still huge potential for many more lives to be changed and transformed. I am excited to be small part of how Innovista are helping teenagers here experience hope and change. I believe that this is possible and that as a result, teenagers here will change the schools, youth groups and communities they are a part of for the better.

Bring on the next six months!

You can help us be a part of transforming the lives of more teenagers across Dublin and beyond by giving or fundraising for us by taking part in the Flora Dublin Women’s Mini Marathon or the Belfast Marathon Relay.

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