Be the best that you can be
It was a nerve-wracking time for us, something new, something brave, something a little ‘off piste’. We were invited to be part of a panel at an event in Hackney, North London, called ‘Be the best you can be’. There in front of us were over 60 girls, aged 14 – or there abouts. I couldn’t tell you, my kids are little, these kids looked like grown-ups to me. And there we are sat on a panel, for the first time talking about what we are all about, to some of the people, that we’d really like to benefit. Emma calls them, our ‘beneficiaries’!
It was certainly one of the most difficult things we’ve done to date – we’ve spoken to journalists and funders with relative ease … but this, was a whole different ball game. And a ball game that we are going to have to spend a bit more time learning the rules for.
It wasn’t bad, it was a strange format really, a bit them and us. The girls’ faces were mostly blank, and a bit bored, but there were some sparkles in there too. At the end of the talk, when a Labour Party member had just about finished off any hope of ever inspiring any girls EVER to want to get into politics, we were determined to meet Michelle Brown, now SHE was a role model, and SHE was coming at it from the right angle.
This young woman is exactly what we are looking for in our role models, for PinkStinks as a campaign, and for cooltobe.me as inspiration. She told the girls of her journey to being in the England Women’s Basketball team. How she had lived her dream; how there’ll always be ‘haters’ or ‘doubters’ but that you should get your strength from these people … and do it anyway. How when she got pregnant at 19, and the world of basketball turned away from her; but how she made them look at her again, and how she succeeded on her own terms, because she believed that she could. About how having her son gave her a new dimension in her life, and how she chose an education to safeguard her future. About how when she got injured, her education saved her, and meant that she could earn a living for herself and her son. And now she is an award winning coach for the Brixton TopCats, a successful Women’s team from Brixton.
One of the organisers said at the end, that we as a panel were an “inspiration”, and I don’t doubt that some of the women there were, or deserved that accolade. Michelle certainly was, and we hope that we can do some work with her on our project. But something that really crossed my mind was that it’s actually the young women there, working with these youth groups, day in, day out, hoping to inspire and ignite in them something that will give them the energy and determination to try to make it in life, to get what they want and to be fulfilled. Really it’s they that are the inspiration. And really, it’s they that deserve all the credit.