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Last month saw 2019 draw to a close, providing a perfect opportunity to take a look back over the previous twelve months to celebrate success or catch up with friends.
One person who has most certainly had a year to remember is our Ambassador, Kirsty Ewen, who entered 2019 in spectacular fashion after winning the Unsung Hero award at 2018’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards.
Since then, Kirsty, from Inverness, has been incredibly busy, sharing her story, meeting and inspiring fellow volunteers and still finding time to help Sports Leaders by playing an active role in our Tutor Training programme.
When she first won her award, Kirsty described volunteering in sport as having saved her life by providing her with a way to tackle her mental health problems. She said: “I was self-harming and I had to make a choice whether to continue my dream of becoming a swimmer or to self-harm, and at that time I chose to give up swimming.
“I was pretty rubbish at all sports apart from swimming, but I fell in love with coaching.
“At the time, I was going through some pretty bad struggles with my mental health. Volunteering has helped me to accept myself.”
After volunteering at her local swimming club, Kirsty has gone on to be involved in some amazing events, including the London 2012 Olympics, Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and 2018 European Championships.
12 months on from receiving her prestigious award from the BBC, Kirsty was present at this year’s Sports Personality event, which took place in Aberdeen in December. After seeing this year’s winner, Keiren Thompson, collect his award, Kirsty was quick to congratulate him via her Twitter feed: “I hope you have a fantastic year and that the platform helps you continue to build on all you do, like it has done for me. Congratulations again, a very worthy winner.
“The opportunities that the platform has given me to help more people and create more conversations around mental health has been amazing and I will be forever grateful for that.
“It’s not the end though it’s only the beginning and I can’t wait to see what comes next.”
Looking ahead to the coming year, Kirsty is excited about developing her work in encouraging people to be involved in sport, regardless of whether they participate or support. She said: “I really want to continue to build on the work I’ve been lucky enough to do this year in terms of sharing my messages wider, promoting sport, leadership, volunteering and their benefits on mental health.
“I also want to continue to help create more conversations about mental health and just try to help as many people as I can, so I would love to try and source more opportunities outside of Scotland as well.
“For me, I just want to make a difference – I want to help people who are struggling and show that there is hope and there’s always something to hold on for. The end of this year marks 10 years since I last attempted suicide and I just want to share the message of hope as much as I can, so anything that relates to that, I want to do as much as possible!”
Throughout her journey from overcoming her challenges to working with Sports Leaders and beyond, Kirsty has been a great example of how a young person can realise their potential through building the five key skills that make up our Skills Framework: communication, self-belief, teamwork, self-management and problem solving.
In particular, Kirsty feels that her ability to get her point across has developed most through her journey, something she emphasised: “I definitely think I have developed all of the five skills, but probably communication the most”
“When I first started sports leadership, I was so nervous just talking in front of other people in the group – I think there were around 10-12 of us. Now I’m able to talk to so many different people from all backgrounds and positions, including at conferences and events with hundreds of people attending.
“There is no way I would be able to do that without what I learnt by taking part in Sports Leaders and then the opportunities you get to really further develop from then.”
We’re incredibly proud to work with Kirsty and help her continue her inspirational work in promoting the benefits of sport and volunteering. Read more about her story and winning the BBC Sport Unsung Hero award here or stay up to date with her latest work via her Twitter feed.
Categories for this post: Good News Stories
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