Courtney grew up in Bonteheuwel, not too far from the school. Now 18, she has been part of the Amy Foundation’s netball after-school programme since 2012. She and her younger sister were introduced to the foundation by some of their friends, and they were two of the first students from other schools in the area to attend the foundation’s programmes.
In seventh and eighth grade, Courtney used to bully her peers and younger students. She started smoking around the same time. “I didn’t get the attention I needed, and I just really wanted to fit in with my friends.” She took her frustration out on others, not realizing the damage she was causing. “I was a very rough child, and the Amy Foundation really helped me. I used to bully children and stuff like that, so they actually helped me realize it’s wrong, what I’m doing.” In eleventh grade, Courtney stopped smoking and tried to change her image, doing whatever she could to be a positive influence on younger students. She wanted to leave behind who she was and focus on her future. “When I reached grade 11, when I passed matric [last year], I told myself, I can’t do this anymore, because I’m getting older and I need to be a good example to the younger ones.” The lessons she learned from facilitators carried through to her home life, influencing her relationships with her friends and family. “I started to respect my mother, and I started to be a good influence to my sister as well. So that changed all of us in the house.”
Courtney started smoking again after she earned her matric, stuck in her house under pandemic restrictions and struggling to find work. But she hasn’t stopped trying to get better. She is working on being clean again and does her best to get out of her house. She wants to give back to the foundation that changed her life and dedicates much of her time to assisting the facilitators at the after-school programmes at Mimosa Primary School. “I’m willing to help this foundation because they helped me… They’re good mentors to us, man, and they helped us from the road, advising us what to do… Ms. Liezel and Aunty Gail, they always used to get me when they knew I used to smoke… I can’t lie to them because they know me so well. I know they care for me, because if they didn’t do that then they wouldn’t care for me. I really appreciate that.”
Now, she is looking to the future. Courtney plans to enroll in the Amy Foundation’s hospitality programme and aspires to have a career in hospitality that takes her all over the world. “I want to travel so much. I want to go to Amsterdam, of course. And I want to go to Las Vegas. I want to visit America. And Paris… I want to learn more countries and experience them… I would really want to travel the world and come back and share it with everyone else.”