Rader's story

Rader migrated to Australia from Ghana in 2011. She was a shy young girl who feared not being accepted and therefore preferred keeping to herself and staying in the comfort of her home, where she felt she only belonged.

In 2015, having only lived in Australia for four years, Rader decided to take a big step and look for opportunities and experiences that would help her challenge herself and broaden her horizons. She applied to take part in The Helmsman Project.

“My favourite part about being on The Helmsman Project was having to conquer my fear. My fear of the water. I didn’t even want to be on the boat, and then I had to climb up the mast. It felt like walking the plank.”

During the sailing adventure Rader was challenged to face her fears, and she credits her ability to do so to the support from her Helmsman Project coaches and camaraderie of the other girls in her group.

“The other girls did it (climbed up the mast). Some even cried. I was so proud of them I wanted to do it too. The teamwork contributed to lifting my confidence.”

Like many others who participate in The Helmsman Project, Rader and her group bonded over the challenges they faced together and finished the program with a new group of friends.

“We weren’t very close going into the program, only on a polite basis. But after five days on the boat together and two terms of coaching with our Helmsman Project coaches, we created a special connection. We started hanging out, singing together, having fun. It was very empowering. Even after that we became close at school. We hung out together all the time.”

Before participating in the program Rader identified as a quiet and shy student, who struggled with confidence and even keeping eye contact when talking to others. Now, Rader is the complete opposite.

“My peers and friends ask me all the time ‘What happened to you? You used to be so shy?’ and I say ‘Helmsman!’”

Rader received a prefect leadership role, was a member of the Student Representative Council and enjoys performing dance in front of large audiences. She considers herself a leader rather than a follower now, and has noticed this confidence change in many aspects of her life.

“One of the most important things I learnt was that I should put myself out there and try new things. I’ve done a lot of dance performances since then. It’s made a difference with presenting group work for class. I’m able to speak louder and clearer, much better than I used to.”

Since finishing the program, Rader feels more resilient and persistent. She strives to be a leader and to put herself out there. She describes The Helmsman Project as an opportunity that enabled her to grow and change as a person. Rader definitely experienced something new, and she definitely broke out of her shell.

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