On the 29 June 2017, I curtseyed in Buckingham Palace, shook the hand of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, shared a meal with Prince Harry and embarrassed myself in front of former One Direction member, Liam Payne. It was a big day to say the least. It is also the day I can pinpoint my life changing.
I remember standing in my apartment in London the night before and FaceTiming my Mum back home. I was stressing about my dress – did I pick the right one? Do you think it fits properly? What do I do with my hair?
I woke up on the morning of the big day a nervous wreck. I called about five local hairdressers and found someone who would curl my hair last minute. I took my nail polish off my toes because it looked a little messy. Then about five minutes before walking out the door I realised I hadn’t repainted them, so I sat down on the floor in my (very generously gifted) Ted Baker dress and quickly painted my toe nails the brightest shade of red which definitely did not match my dress. I headed out the door, wet toenail polish and all.
They always say that the best days of your life fly by in the blink of an eye. They could not have been more right about this one. Sitting in the back row of the most incredible room in Buckingham Palace feels like it happened yesterday. It is safe to say that since that day, nothing has been the same. I maintain that I probably wouldn’t be sitting where I am today had it not been for the 29 June 2017.
1,095 days ago, I was working part-time in a marketing agency as a copywriter. I returned home, quit my job and sat in the Little Dreamers office at our co-working space wondering how I was going to make ends meet with no income.
Over the past 1,095 days, Little Dreamers has employed 32 staff, raised over $3 million and supported thousands of Young Carers around Australia. We have challenged the system and advocated for the support for Young Carers in policy, education and the local community.
A key highlight for me has been the development, launch and growth of the Big Dreamers Program. I remember sitting on the floor of our apartment in London with Jordan from Sydney and Ashleigh from New Zealand. We were throwing around ideas and brainstorming late into the night about how we could better support Young Carers in the 13-18 year old age bracket.
BOOM, the Big Dreamers Program was born. A six-month personal development and leadership program with two multi-night retreats, monthly workshops, business and personal mentoring and more. The program launched less than a year after I arrived home from that life-changing London trip, funded by Gandel Philanthropy.
We are now halfway through our third group of Big Dreamers, and each program has supported Young Carers to become the best, most confident and empowered versions of themselves. I have seen how quickly deep and meaningful friendships can form within these groups of likeminded Young Carers.
There is still so far we have to go. But in the middle of everything going on at the moment (just a little global pandemic) it has been important for me to try to pause and look at just how far we have come.