Where are you in your career and what are you working on at the moment?

I’ve been the Founder and CEO of Life Changing Experiences Foundation for 14 years. The Foundation provides one-on-one mentoring, educational programs and life changing opportunities for at risk teenage girls. One of our core programs is the SISTER2Sister program. We’ve just passed the 500 mark with the number of girls we’ve helped through that program. In 2018 we’re launching a brand new in-school program tailored for Year 7 girls called No Limits 4 Girls. This is a workshop series delivered over three terms addressing a range of topics to help disadvantaged girls transition into high school. This means we can extend our reach throughout Australia and help more girls while we expand the SISTER2sister program.

What are some of the challenges in your industry?

The charity sector is highly crowded and has doubled since Life Changing Experiences was formed in 2003. This creates a challenge for us because there are so many worthy causes needing donations to help parts of the community. We want to concentrate most on transforming young vulnerable lives yet we spend a lot of time trying to be seen. People can’t donate to us if they don’t know we exist.

Have you had any experience with mentoring women or being mentored by women? What was that experience like for you? How did you feel that it benefited you?

Overseeing the SISTER2sister program for 14 years has been an incredible experience. Witnessing the changes in the Little Sisters, no matter big or small, over time and knowing we had something to do with it is very rewarding. It inspires me to keep going in a tough and competitive sector.

How important do you think it is for women to mentor girls?

I believe its extremely important for women to mentor girls. It’s the reason I started the SISTER2sister program. I chose to start with girls as they’re the mothers of the next generation, but I believe that everyone can benefit from having a mentor.

How important do you think it is to have a strong female role model in your life?

I feel its very important. Young girls, and particularly vulnerable girls in our SISTER2sister program who may not necessarily have a strong female role model in their lives only know what they see. Providing professional and inspirational mentors to give guidance and support and the opportunity to think differently is crucial to help set young people up for future success.

Why did you start ‘Life Changing Experiences’?

Trauma dramatically impacts a child’s ability to learn and commonly presents itself as behavioural difficulties in the classroom. In my teaching years, it broke my heart to see misunderstood students disengaging from school and falling through the cracks of society because of their circumstances. Children only know what they see so we need to show them that there are other paths to take in life. To break the cycle, I chose to start with the mothers of the next generation by empowering them to make positive choices and strive for a better future. I believe education is the key to unlocking limitless potential.

Jessica’s Story

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