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How you can help hundreds of marginalised teenage girls this September.

Today as I sat around the brainstorming table with my colleagues in the office, pondering what I could give up for the month of September for our 30 Days for 30 Girls fundraising campaign it dawned on me how lucky I am to be able to choose what I go without.

It wasn’t an easy decision. Do I go without wine? Watching Game of Thrones? Take away lunches? I’d gladly give up my high heels and my hair straightener for a month, but really all that would do is relieve my poor hair and feet from torture for a month. Giving up driving to catch public transport was too impractical with my job.  I’d love to go without a phone – if only my team would let me!

Jessica Brown CEO of the Life Changing Experiences Foundation. Image: Mamamia.com.au 

So in the end we decided that I would go without buying anything new (for a whole month!).  I’m not too proud to say that going without my retail therapy for 30 days was more than a little bit daunting – but I wanted to genuinely challenge myself and experience how it feels to really want something and not be able to buy it for myself.  In essence, I wanted to walk a month in another woman’s shoes (just not new ones).

I couldn’t help think where I would be if the stork had dropped me off at another address? Would I have had the opportunities in life that I have now? People who love and care for me? A safe home and a steady job where I can independently provide for my basic needs?

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Big and Little Sisters from the SISTER2sister program. Image: Life Changing Experiences Foundation.

What if I had no choice about what I went without? In fact what if I didn’t have the choice about my own personal safety and what if I was so disempowered that I didn’t believe I had the power of choice in life or the power to change my circumstances?

Sadly, this is the reality for many of the marginalised teenage girls the SISTER2sister program, a program I set up specifically to empower vulnerable teenage girls to make positive choices for a better future for themselves. 60% of the girls we support do not feel safe in their own homes. Many live with abuse, neglect and suffer or relive trauma on a daily basis with their basic needs not being met. They are without security, a consistent positive adult in their life and often lack friendship and human connection due to their default lack of trust.

Big and Little Sisters learning cooking skills. Image: Life Changing Experiences Foundation.

Thankfully each year 30 girls in NSW and 30 girls in VIC have the opportunity and support to turn their lives around and reach goals they never even knew existed. Each of our girls are matched with a professional female role model who is there to inspire and guide them through life’s obstacles and help steer them in the right direction.

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Together each mentor/mentee match attends an intensive year long program where girls learn the necessary coping strategies to deal with their past and the tools to build a positive future. We are able to open their eyes to the infinite possibilities of what their future could look like. Most importantly we help them recognise that they have the power of choice.

Over the past 13 years I have seen girls living on the street, doing it rough, transform their lives and even graduate with honours from university, I’ve seen girls who never ever imagined they could fly travel the world, and hundreds to be the first in the family to hold down a job or complete high school.

"I have seen girls living on the street, doing it rough, transform their lives and even graduate with honours from university." Image:  Life Changing Experiences Foundation.

While I am equally proud of every single girl who has graduated through the SISTER2sister program it is the girls who are now mothers who swear that they will never ever let their children ever grow up in the same circumstances as them that make my heart sing. Only then do we know that we have truly broken the cycle.

Thanks to the unwavering dedication of our volunteers, our supporters and the generosity of the general public our foundation has helped hundreds of girls.

We hope you can help us help hundreds more by getting behind our 30 Days for 30 Girls fundraising campaign in September. A lot of people giving a little will make a huge difference so help us continue to support precious girls in the community by spreading the word and ask your friends, families and colleagues to support you.

If you'd like to donate please visit the Life Changing Experiences Foundation website

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