I wanted to take a moment to show you the positive effects the SISTER2sister support program gives Australian girls. The need for strong and caring female role models is critical for young women and girls especially those struggling on their own. As an ambassador for SISTER2sister I wanted to share Lyndsey’s story with you. The role these Big Sisters play really resonates with me as that’s how I feel I contribute through my blog. A lot of young women read my blog and I like to think that they know I’m reaching out to them, that I care and yes, sometimes things can get rough but they’re never alone.
Lyndsey Fay Macnaught-Little Sister case study
Written by Lyndsey Fay Macnaught
The majority of my early childhood memories are consumed by my grandma and thinking about her still makes me teary till today. Regardless of how long ago she passed, I remember her perfectly. We would always do girly things together like bake; look at old photos and artworks from before I was born. She also helped me write my first little book which was just some squiggly drawings and strange looking letters, but it has so much value and I still have it. Also, she bought me my first and precious stuffed Pink Panther toy (that I admittedly still sleep with). I think we got along so well because we loved each other’s company, therefore we bonded. We had so much in common and she treated me like I was the only person in her life.
When I was four, I remember walking to my grandma’s apartment with my dad. But to my own disappointment she didn’t answer. It was then all a blur. I remember lots of police cars out the front of the apartment and I was crying. They broke into the apartment along with my dad to find her deceased. There was a lot of paperwork to be filled out that my dad took initiative signing, even after everything that happened. All I wanted was to be held by my grandma.
A few weeks passed and I started to get that itching feeling that I was never going to see my grandma again and I was right. She was around 62 when she died, so she was young for a senior. I felt confused and lonely and didn’t understand why she would just suddenly ‘disappear’. Then hardly a year later things got worse. My mum and dad were constantly fighting for many personal reasons and they eventually separated.
I lived with my dad. We moved away and I started school out in the western suburbs. I still visited my mum and sister on the weekends, but grew up not knowing either of them very well.
We originally lived around Wiley Park, but moved out into the Western Suburbs. It was just my dad and I for a long time. It’s awkward talking about girly things like hormonal changes and boys with your dad. Sometimes a girl just needs a female in her life.
My mum then left to live interstate with her boyfriend and due to her personal problems Erin my little sister came to live with us. Erin was too young to understand the things I started going through; therefore I needed someone to be a positive role model.
Growing up with out a mother around, I grew up more quickly than most and had no choice but to become very independent at an early age. I was often the one looking after my younger sister when dad went out. I thought I knew everything.
I didn’t seem to fit in to mainstream school and was often the class clown. I got in-trouble a lot. I got sent to the detention mainly for not taking cooking classes seriously, for wearing purple socks, constantly walking off school property and was suspended from school and from public transport for letting off a fart-bomb on the bus – which in my defence isn’t harmful.
Aside from the craziness, I was bullied. The older girls would make fun of me because I wasn’t as pretty as them and make nasty comments about the way I dance and draw. I fell off my bike in front of everyone and they laughed in my face. During an assembly, a boy pulled my chair away from behind me so when I went to sit down; I fell straight to the floor. Everyone laughed. I laughed with them but I was fighting back the tears.
I became negative and rebelled. I had no self-control and didn’t care about anything. I climbed out windows to escape class, wore the wrong uniform, talked back to teachers, didn’t do my work and came to school a mess. Basically everything you weren’t supposed to do, I most likely did. Even when the principle referred me to the counsellor, I didn’t feel comfortable because I don’t open up easily to strangers. Despite my wild behaviour, I suffered in silence. I’d lost my self-belief. No one understood me.
Nothing changed for almost a year until I turned fifteen and I was in year nine. The counsellor knew about a program called SISTER2sister which I understand is about girls like me. Girls who want to make a change for the better. I thought it was perfect. It was exactly what I needed. I had an opportunity to have a Big Sister for a girl for me. I was accepted and was introduced to Kathy who saw my potential from the very beginning and we hit it off.
It was a fresh and positive start to 2010. The program had different outings each month where we got to spend time with other little and big sisters doing fun things such as butterfly boot camp, dancing, art classes and others things. It taught us how to live a healthy life style and again my outlook on life was changed. With Kathy’s guidance, I started to find myself again. If I wanted to pursue my dreams of becoming an established actress, I had to go out and get it myself. I had to learn to accept the things I had, even if it’s not a lot and stop living to impress people.
Because I couldn’t fit in with mainstream school, Kathy thought a good idea was Bradfield Senior College which is more flexible, it’s independent and you can be yourself without fearing judgement. The subjects were more on the creative side which suited me perfectly. Through the application process, I was accepted.
It opened my eyes. I became close with my mum; finally receiving that mother daughter time I’d always desired. The college made me closer with my mum because it gave her a deep insight of what type of person I am, what I want to do and how hard I’m willing to work to achieve success. I’m being a role model for my sister. My life was mending itself and things only got better when I started college.
2011 is a transitional moment in my life. SISTER2sister was a massive impact and opened so many doors for me. Because of the program, I’ve made new friends, gained a friend for life, started taking responsibility for my education and never lost hope. It’s also made me a more confident person. I’ve auditioned for model competitions and taken up any opportunity to perform at my college.
I’m also one of a dozen students featured in a television program called ‘Class of’ which is a TV series about how teenagers handle school.
So I can proudly say I’ve turned my life around. I am now 18 years old and have completed my HSC. I’ve just been accepted into a music program called “Sound of the Streets” and I’m doing everything I can to get exposure to the entertainment business. I’m passionate about performance and want to eventually move to the states to pursue a serious career in acting. Now everything’s up to me to pursue it. I’m a happier person and gained what I’ve always longed for; self-belief.
Self-belief is something everyone needs. Without it, you can lose yourself. For all those girls out there who feel lost or down about themselves or feel like they’ll amount to nothing; self-belief. But there are two meanings in self –belief. You is the first and love is the second. You can’t love until you love yourself and belief comes from that. Everything else flows from there.
I still see Kathy regularly and thank her for changing my life for the better.
Support the SISTER2sister program and find out more about the Life Changing Experience Foundation.