30 Under 30: Natasha KerrWritten by The Young Women's Movement
When 21 year old Natasha Kerr was in her fifth year of school in Auchinleck, Ayrshire, she did a work placement in Leisure Development. The next week she got a phone call asking if she would be interested in volunteering.
‘I didn’t think, I just said yes as I really enjoyed my placement and it had inspire me to think about volunteering. Within the first week of volunteering they had put me into three different clubs.’
That immediate ‘yes’ response is somewhat of a hallmark of Natasha’s when it comes to volunteering according to those who work with her at Ayrshire College, where she is completing the HND Sports Coaching and Development programme.
She volunteers a full seven days a week in addition to her studies, never thinking of what it might get her. Natasha’s focus is 100% on helping others, says John McTaggart, Ayrshire College’s Sports and Fitness curriculum manager, and Natasha herself speaks only of the impact she has had on the children she works with.
‘There is nothing more satisfying than knowing that I have helped children improve their skills, increase their ability, but most importantly, seeing the smiles on their faces knowing that they are happy and enjoying themselves.’
Can we just point out that school work and general life stuff is exhausting enough, but seven days of volunteering a week and we would essentially become the perfect extras for the next season of Walking Dead (no special effects needed). So Natasha is definitely a hero in our eyes!
Not only has volunteering changed the lives of the children that Natasha works with, it’s done wonders for her as well. Natasha has selective mutism and is on the autistic spectrum, which meant that she has always struggled with new environments and talking to new people.
‘I was also extremely lacking in confidence. Volunteering and being at college has helped me increase my confidence and control the selective mutism. [Ayrshire] College has also helped me immensely throughout the last four years. They actively encourage me to believe in myself.’
After graduating this year, Natasha has a whole world of possibilities open to her – she talks of joining the workforce full-time, but John McTaggart is quick to point out that she could go anywhere and do anything – she’s even recently received an offer from the University of St Andrews! Her CV is impressive, too: she was Volunteer of the Year and Youth Worker of the Year at the YoungScot awards 2016, and has been nominated for The Herald Higher Education Awards for Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community.
She was personally thanked last week by MP for Kilmarnock and Loudoun, who said that ‘Through her hard work, selfless dedication and personal development she encourages the health, happiness and wellbeing of others through sports and embodies what volunteering is all about.’
As for Natasha, she has one main goal for her future: ‘In five years’ time I would like to be coaching children in a wide variety of sports, either as a full-time job or voluntary.’
Not only has Natasha found something she loves doing (and at such a young age, too!), but it gives her a chance to change people’s lives for the better, and even if you’re as humble as Natasha is, that’s something you should definitely be proud of!