Kerri Pottharst Step up for SISTERHOOD Day Interview
Child abuse and neglect is one of Australia's most significant social problems. Last year over 30,000 Australian children were proven to have been abused or neglected. Young girls in Australia are particularly vulnerable. Girls are two to three times more likely to be abused than boys.
On Friday 6th December Step up for SISTERHOOD Day will launch, inviting women across Australia to wear their favourite stilettos in exchange for a gold coin donation.
A beautifully simple concept, the day asks women across Australia to -step up' for young girls suffering from abuse, neglect or poverty by exchanging their -casual' or -workplace' shoes for their most fabulous heels.
Step Up for Sisterhood Day will raise vital funding for the SISTER2sister program, Life Changing Experience Foundation's (LCEF) 12-month mentoring initiative that empowers vulnerable teenage girls to make positive life choices for a better future. Matched with -Big Sister' role models for the year, the program takes the group of girls and their mentors on -life changing' experiences monthly that help to build their confidence and show them a better path in life.
Founder and chief executive officer of LCEF, Jessica Brown says, 'There are thousands of young girls in Australia that need someone to fight for them. Step up for SISTERHOOD Day is about using the power of community to finally break the cycle of trauma, offering hope and support to the girls in this country who have fallen through the cracks or been left behind. It's also a fabulous excuse to don your favourite pair of heels!"
Workplaces are invited to register online at www.lifechangingexperiences.org and allocate a designated person from the workplace to collect the donations. Organisers will receive a Certificate of Appreciation and participants who register will also go into the draw to win fantastic prizes.
Slip into your favourite pair of stiletto's on Friday 6th December and STEP UP for sisters in need. The SISTER2sister program has changed hundreds of girls' lives so far, take a stand for something worthwhile and help change hundreds more.
The SISTER2sister Program mentors girls ages between 12 and 18 who are -at risk' due to extreme suffering as a direct result of trauma, bereavement, poverty, sexual abuse, mental abuse, physical abuse, neglect, homelessness, sickness/disability and destitution. This includes girls from all nationalities, religions and socio economic groups. Girls are identified and nominated by school welfare systems, women's refuges, -at risk' youth programs such as -On Track' and -Don Bosco House', rape crisis centres and the general public, including parents.
For further information on Life Changing Experiences Foundation visit www.lifechangingexperiences.org
To register for step up to SISTERHOOD day visit www.stepupforsisterhood.org.au or call 1300 553 629
Interview with Kerri Pottharst
Question: What is Step up for SISTERHOOD Day?
Kerri Pottharst: Step up for SISTERHOOD Day is an event to raise awareness for the SISTER2sister program. This great initiative invites women across Australia to wear their favourite high heels in exchange for a gold coin donation.
Question: What inspired you to get involved with the Life Changing Experiences Foundation?
Kerri Pottharst: I've been an ambassador for the program for a number of years now and I will be wearing my high heels, around my house, on Step up for SISTERHOOD Day. I will be talking many photos and if I leave the house I'll be wearing my heels even though I am 6ft1 (laughs) and my husband is shorter than me so I don't get to wear my heels very often (laughing).
Question: What do you hope Australians learnt from participating in Step up for SISTERHOOD Day?
Kerri Pottharst: Learning about the SISTER2sister program is what we're trying to promote with the Step up for SISTERHOOD Day. The SISTER2sister program has been running for a number of years now and the feedback from the little sisters (the girls who go through the program) and the big sisters (the mentors who link with the little sisters) has been amazingly life changing. The mentors continue to stay in contact with their little sister and 100% of these girls are from broken families and often they have slipped through the cracks even though a lot of them have been abused physically, sexually or emotionally. Many of the little sisters have been neglected at some point in their life and some have even witnessed violent crimes; many of these girls have been through things that you and I couldn't even begin to imagine and society often forgets about these girls which is why the SISTER2sister program is so awesome.
The girls are nominated for the SISTER2sister program by community centres or other government programs that come on board to link with the program.
Question: Can you talk about the work you do for the Life Changing Experiences Foundation?
Kerri Pottharst: I've been involved with the SISTER2sister program by doing a workshop with the girls, I talk to them about my story and how I dealt with injuries throughout my career which were the blocks and hurdles that I had to overcome and how I dealt with those. I also speak about how I built my confidence especially because as a teenager I was already quite tall and I got bullied a lot at school, for being taller than everybody else. I was a very sensitive teenager and sport was something I became passionate about and I grabbed hold of that which is something I hone in with the girls on.
At the end of the presentation I speak to the group of girls about their fears and doubts, I even get them to walk across broken glass which is something they look at and think -that's so scary' and once they've done it, they look back and realise how scared they were but that it wasn't that bad which makes them look at what else in their lives that they could be afraid at trying to achieve.
I hope to make the girls realise they don't need to worry about what people think and that they need to realise they can do whatever they set their mind too. I want them to understand the limits that they may have set on themselves are just thoughts in their heads.
Question: Why did you get involved in the SISTER2sister program?
Kerri Pottharst: I first got involved because I met one of the big sister mentors through a corporate contact and when she told me about the program she was going off to do, I thought that it sounded like a great program and one that I wanted to be involved in. The group welcomed me with opened arms and asked me to share my experiences with the girls. I enjoyed meeting the girls and they mentioned that the girls wouldn't typically get to meet someone who had succeeded in their lives whether that is business, sport or entertainment related. The SISTER2sister program allows these girls to have the opportunity to meet people from a wide range of backgrounds and everyone involved are good, solid women who want to help young girls and give them basic connections, relationships and help them.
It's quite horrifying to hear what these girls have been through and to be able to give back is something I'm very grateful for.
Question: What do you enjoy most about inspiring, motivating, and educating other people to succeed?
Kerri Pottharst: I love teaching, when I went through High School I really wanted to be a teacher; my love of sport and volleyball had me thinking about being a PE teacher but I never ended up going to University because I got carried away with sport for twenty years and became a full time athlete. I love working in team and I always saw myself in a coaching role.
So many people were inspired by the gold medal win and because of that I use my story to motivate others, I have been doing that for a long time. I love being able to help other people get past their beliefs of what they think they can't achieve. We all start of equally and I count myself as an ordinary person who found their passion and I wanted to see how far that could take me. I had mentors and coaches along the way that helped me and I know how important that was and without them I wouldn't have got to where I did. I now really love being able to give that to others.
At the moment I do a lot of corporate work in helping corporates understand how to get more energy out of their own bodies as we can't create more time in our day but from an athlete's point of view how do you get peak performance out of your own body; I love working with corporates as an incoming earning opportunity, but I love working with charities and young girls to keep a balance.
Interview by Brooke Hunter