A little bit of a background for Cadet Fitzgerald, she is was a shy and anxious girl who was bullied all through her younger years both in and outside of school. The decision was made to home school her to support her well-being.
The important thing for us was that we wanted to ensure she was able to socialise with her peers and have aspirations and a sense of belonging in a community. During the summer we went to the Bournemouth Air Show and whilst there Orla was drawn into a stand with Christchurch Army Cadets, there we met and chatted to Lt Elsson and Sgt Elsson along with some cadets. Orla was immediately inspired by them all and decided to give it a go. She eagerly began to tick the days off the calendar to begin her first night in Sept.
This was huge for Orla as she is generally very shy and gets anxious about new things, especially group situations. The first night arrived and of course, Orla was anxious about starting but bravely walked through the doors. Once inside, her anxiety was relieved when she was greeted by cadets that had welcomed her in and introduced themselves to her. The instructors were amazing and assured her that she would be fine and would have an amazing time with them.
After that first night, she came out with the biggest smile and was keen to go again. She felt part of the detachment and part of a team. Since That first night, I have seen a huge improvement with Orla's confidence and anxiety and for this, I am grateful to the instructors and the cadets that she is with, for giving her the confidence to do this.
Orla has attended events with cadets without hesitation as she knows that she will be OK and have a great time. She can be herself at cadets with no fear of bullying and one day aspires to be like her peers. Thank you so much Christchurch Army Cadets.