Pregnancy no barrier to Mirrors honour
A volunteer life coach has won a top award for mentoring a 14-year-old girl, despite being pregnant with her own child.
Tahiyyah Ali picked up the Outstanding Coach Award from youth programme Mirrors for her work with Kassia White.
Ms Ali said: “Everyone, including myself, thought I was going to get the commitment award, so I was really happy and surprised when I got the Outstanding Coach Award. It was a wonderful feeling.”
Ms Ali became a Mirrors coach after she was signed up last October outside a store.
The spa assistant from Smith's said: “I'd happened to be at the store and they were outside trying to recruit people, so I thought it would be nice to try something new.”
Ms Ali was trained by Mirrors and she started to work with Kassia last October before helping to run a six-day “Supercamp” for the charity.
The course included Mirrors' eight keys to excellence, which include integrity, commitment flexibility and the ability to learn from mistakes.
Ms Ali said: “Of course in the beginning it feels a little awkward because of shyness, but she had no problem just stopping to talk to me so that made me ease up much faster as well.”
Kassia added: “At first it was kind of awkward because I didn't know her very well, but over the next couple of months it got easier.”
The eight keys of the programme helped them to work through problems.
Kassia, a pupil at CedarBridge Academy, explained: “I used to have a bad temper, but with learning the eight keys of excellence I just think of how each key effects me and my attitude.
“So if I remember ‘this is it' I can think about the consequences of something and how it would affect me and other people.”
Ms Ali added: “Flexibility is one of the keys that we do, so we ended up making a set date and time which made it a little easier.
“Sometimes we were unable to meet with one another but for the most part we had our set schedule.”
The awards were presented earlier this month at Whitney Institute, when the latest crop of youngsters graduated from the programme.
Joanne Woods, Mirrors partner manager, said Ms Ali's commitment stood out from the pack.
She added: “Tahiyyah embodied the eight keys: she was eight months pregnant and didn't miss a report, a meeting session, a follow-up.
“Tahiyyah came on a boat to help with a clean-up at Fort St Cunningham and she was due in two weeks.”
Now the two plan to keep in touch, even though the official coaching programme is over. Ms Ali said: “I've created such a social butterfly, I can't just end it.”
The pair said more adults and youngsters should consider joining the Mirrors programme.
Ms Ali added: “All the volunteers would say they learnt a lot about themselves throughout this programme. If you have an open mind and heart try it out, it's a wonderful experience.”
Kassia said: “It has a good impact on how you think about yourself, it can change your thoughts and you meet new people.”
•For more information on how to volunteer or to enrol a young person call 294-9291 or e-mail email@example.com