How volunteering changed my life

by Gemma Maclean, YST Youth Board Member

Gemma MacleanMy name is Gemma Maclean. I am a leader, an ambassador, public speaker, an influencer and a volunteer in sport. Before I was all of these things, I was an unhappy girl lacking confidence that was disengaged at school and was not aware of my full potential and what I could achieve.

Within the Youth Sport Trust (YST) I have had exposure to various volunteering roles, from being in a sport ambassador position in high school, to now having an advocacy position for young people across the UK as part of YST and Sport Scotland Youth Boards. Each role I have been involved in has developed my social and communication skills to a massive extent. Thanks to being part of YST initiatives and volunteering programmes I have become more confident in myself and more aware of what I am capable of achieving.

One example of this is the Team Leader Programme, through which I have learned to deliver and facilitate educational sessions to a range of young people... something I never believed I could do. I have learned how to adapt my sessions dependent on the ethos and environment of the room. After volunteering as a Team Leader at the YST’s National Talent Camp and most recently Girls Active I have realised that I am a role model, someone who young people can look up to and aspire to be like. This is something which I never thought I'd be able to say, however something which I take great pride in.

I would not be where I am today if it wasn't for the YST and all the opportunities I have had the privilege to be part of. They have helped me grow and learn as a professional and have been a massive part in developing my leadership skill set.

The programmes I have been part of only highlight a handful of projects that Youth Sport Trust run for young people. There are many more and during Volunteers Week running from 1 – 12 June, is a fantastic opportunity to highlight these. Programmes such as Young Ambassador Peer Leaders and Girls Active have continued to build confidence in young people through instilling leadership skills and exposing them to volunteer work, either in schools, communities or at events including the Schools Games. Inclusive Futures together with Get Set For Community Action place focus on deploying young people in the community to highlight the power experiences have on personal development. These programmes have reached thousands of young people and provide them those vital employability skills companies look for on the CV.

YST’s 20th Anniversary Video highlights my story, the journeys of other volunteers, athletes and many more whose lives have been impacted by Youth Sport Trust. Check out the video on the right hand side of this page. 

On 7 June from 8pm till 9pm, there will be a live twitter Q&A that aims to bring organisations and volunteers together to provide a platform to share their views on the key issues and share their insight on volunteering. Join myself and Youth Sport Trust and look out for information on Twitter. 

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