Matric load no obstacle to service work

HELPING HAND: Kelsey Brooks is a finalist in the Citizen of the Year youth category  Picture: IVOR MARKMAN
HELPING HAND: Kelsey Brooks is a finalist in the Citizen of the Year youth category

Pearson pupil thrives on aiding others

Assisting various charities in Nelson Mandela Bay while coping with the stresses of a Grade 12 workload is just one of the hurdles Kelsey Brooks clears on a daily basis.

Her charity projects with the Pearson High School Interact committee and in a personal capacity have seen her bag a spot on The Herald GM Citizen of the Year youth category nomination list.

Kelsey, 18, spends most of her time tearing into a Grade 12 curriculum but she has not let this get in the way of her other passion, community work.

She said she was taken aback and humbled by the nomination, as the awards were a platform to showcase work being done by youth all over the Bay.

Inspired by her mother, Margot, and grandmother Mercia de Beer, Kelsey has seen her interest in assisting the less privileged grow since she first became a member of Pearson’s Interact committee in Grade 8.

Later becoming the committee president, she has undertaken a myriad projects aimed at improving the lives of others during her five years at Pearson.

“I know it sounds like a cliché, but the feeling you get when helping others is what drew me to this kind of work,” Kelsey said.

“The feeling you get when giving something to somebody rather than receiving something is very rewarding.”

A project close to her heart is assisting a guardian with the care of two little girls in Forest Hill, one of whom suffers from Huntington’s disease.

With her mother and grandmother, Kelsey helps with bathing, clothing and feeding the girls, while also donating toys and books to them.

Most recently, Interact donated a washing machine, detergents, washing baskets and other goods to the EP Child and Youth Care Centre. Other projects include regular visits and collections for the Maranatha Children’s Home, Cheshire Homes and other centres in the Bay.

She has also been involved in funds collections for projects like Cansa, Retina SA and Lake Farm, as well as collections of clothing and stationery for disadvantaged schools and relief organisations.

Kelsey is also a youth leader at the Walmer Methodist Church holiday club.

She admits time management plays a vital role in her ability to juggle her charity work and school, but says her work for others has opened her eyes to a life outside her comfort zone.

“Being busy is in itself a challenge [but] even if you have your own things to worry about, you always need to prioritise others,” she said.

Kelsey, who is writing her matric trial exams, wants to study chartered accountancy at Stellenbosch University next year.

But she is determined to continue working to improve the lives of those less fortunate.

“People seem to think you can only make a difference if you have a lot of time and money, but I think if people do something, no matter how small it is, it could make a big difference,” she said.

Pearson director for marketing and PRO Pieter Rademeyer hailed Kelsey as a remarkable young lady of whom the school is very proud.

“Kelsey was instrumental in the wonderful efforts and change brought to many people in the past five years,” Rademeyer said.

“She is a genuine and sincere young woman who inspires the rest of the Pearsonites to get involved and do good for others.”

Kelsey said her younger sister, Darcy, 15, had begun following in her footsteps by engaging in some charity work.

“She has been really keen to join us in our work.”

EP Child and Youth Care Centre director Terry Hattingh said she met Kelsey earlier this month and was overwhelmed by her warm, outgoing personality.

“She is such a passionate person. She interacted so well with the children, and one can see that she really does care for the community, old or young. She really does care about the people she assists,” Hattingh said.

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