BENEFITING: ASCEND - LEADERSHIP THROUGH ATHLETICS INC
Hi! I’m Kelly. I’m going to Afghanistan for the summer, and I could use your help in making it happen!
Why am I headed to Afghanistan? In short, to work with a really incredibly organization that I've gotten to know over the past 6 months called Ascend: Leadership Through Athletics (henceforth referred to as Ascend). Ascend is a newer NGO that uses mountain climbing as the vehicle for young women's empowerment, and I'm flying over to fill the currently vacant Program Officer role for the summer.
Based in Norfolk, Virginia, Ascend currently works with a team of young Afghan women (ages 15-23), helping them become change-makers for their communities by pairing intensive physical training, challenging climbing expeditions, and intensive character/leadership development education. Read: they train girls to climb mountains! How badass is that? Considering that under Taliban rule women were barely allowed to leave the house (no school, no grocery shopping without a man, no going for a jog, no coffee dates with friend, etc.) the answer to my rhetorical question is: these girls are incredibly badass.
Obviously, the mountain climbing is the "sexy" part of the story. Afghan women summiting peaks sends a pretty strong message to all of those who have told them (and their mothers before them) that women can't. By successfully climbing mountains the Ascend team says "Oh yes we CAN." However, (as anyone that has ever done something challenging knows) the mountaintop experience is hard-earned. These girls show up 7 days a week to train their bodies, minds, and spirits to achieve great heights. They volunteer twice a week at local NGOs to develop their servant leadership skills; they do yoga once a week to calm their minds and increase their flexibility; they work with Afghan psychologists and trainers to overcome the trauma they've experienced in their lives; and, of course, they learn mountain climbing skills.
I would love to have your financial support/investment so we can change the lives of Afghan women together. Ascend is a start-up nonprofit, and while we have a supportive donor base and have been successful in getting a few grants all of the donations go directly to the daily programming happening in Afghanistan right now. So, not only am I going to Afghanistan, my husband and I are funding my time over there. That's how much I believe in what Ascend is doing.
What I'll be doing while I'm there:
- Managing daily programming for a team of 24 Afghan young women, including physical training (yoga, volleyball, etc.), leadership education, volunteer projects, and mountain skills training
- Setting up the structure for a pilot program to expand Ascend's impact in schools around Kabul (providing after school day hiking programming to introduce 12-16 year old girls to outdoor activities)
- Taking a delegation of our team to a week-long sports camp with other female Afghan athletes (to include marathoners and skateboarders). This will allow for strong young women to network, build community, and learn from each other.
For the longer story check out my blog: http://kellyascends.wordpress.com
**Note: Ascend: Leadership Through Athletics is a 501(c)3 organization. All donations made will be tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.