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Daring to Do | Imogen Ryan-Kerr

By February 23, 2021February 24th, 2021Team


My journey to launching a new initiative: establishing a Girl Up Club. The rewards, the steps, the challenges, and the top tips I’ve learnt when creating a new leadership activity.

I’ll admit, leadership is challenging. But leadership is so rewarding.

When I was so generously offered the roles of the Moreton Bay College Captain and Dance Co-Captain, I leapt at the chance to be a school leader. I was so excited at the prospect of being able to use my voice to share the ideas of others, at the chance to give back to my school and most importantly, at the chance to use my passion for change-making to empower others to recognise their own leadership potential.

I was so involved with leadership at school, I graduated not knowing what to do with myself.

The fast-paced routine to which I had grown so accustomed had slowly crumbled away. I realised that if I wanted to continue to grow as a leader, that was fully up to me. I remember thinking back to yLead’s Student Leadership Conference in Sydney 2019, where I was fortunate enough to hear from speakers who shared the same love for leadership as myself. One such speaker was Sarah Gulley, the Oceania Coordinator for Girl Up, a non-profit organisation founded by the United Nations Foundation with the aim to raise funds and advocate for the rights of girls in the local community.

About two weeks after I graduated, I began to search for Girl Up Clubs to join, hopeful to rekindle my love for leadership and to help a cause so close to my heart. To my initial dismay, I discovered that there were Girl Up Clubs in every Australian state except for Queensland. So, I took a risk. I wanted to be part of this wonderful organisation and to work with and help others, and I realised if I didn’t take a step, if I didn’t do something, then others might miss out on this opportunity too. I launched a Girl Up Club called Girl Up Brisbane – the first Girl Up Club in Queensland.

Here are five lessons I’ve learnt from Girl Up, five lessons which I’m sure will help anyone – whether you’re a school leader, a school student, or someone passionate about leadership but unsure where to start – when launching a new initiative:

1. The hardest part is starting, but it’s also the most exciting.

When you do something new, something different, it’s obviously going to be a challenge. Before I launched Girl Up Brisbane, the anxiety was already starting to cloud my hopes for the club. The questions of, ‘what if I fail?’, or ‘what if I’m not good enough?’ fade into your mind, but it’s so, so, so important to keep persisting. Once you take the first feeble step, the journey is only easier from there.

2. Have a clear mission, not just a vision.

When starting a new initiative, it can be easy to become so caught up in the final product: how many people you want to participate, how much money you want to raise etc. However, the key to actually achieving these goals is planning. I find a clear, structured timeline is super important to make sure that I stick to my goals and complete tasks little by little, with plenty of time to spare. I’m also such an idealist; a checklist of all the nitty-gritty work which needs to be done and doing that first can definitely help when it comes to achieving goals.

3. And on the topic of goals, make sure you actually have some!

I like to think leadership is less about one big achievement, and more about the little things along the way. Reward yourself for completing the simple tasks and the milestone events alike. It is so important to recognise the effort that you have put in. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you fall a little behind schedule, or some things don’t go to plan. Everything will work out.

Anyone can have goals. Anyone can have dreams, aspirations, and ideas. But it takes a leader to actually act with courage, to take the first small step, and to do something.

4. There will be celebratory moments, and there will definitely be challenges.

Covid-19 taught me that change and disruption is inevitable, but your approach and your commitment is what truly matters. We were initially so disappointed at not being able to all run together when our main event of the year (the Global 5k running event) was cancelled. After some thinking, we decided to hold the event virtually. This allowed so many more people from all over Brisbane and Australia to participate! Our club ended up placing within the top 20 Girl Up Clubs in the world, raising over $800 to combat gender-based violence. Instead of seeing challenges as problems, see them as opportunities to grow as a leader.

5. And finally, in true yLead fashion, “leadership is action.”

Anyone can have goals. Anyone can have dreams, aspirations, and ideas. But it takes a leader to actually act with courage, to take the first small step, and to do something. Talk to your friends and your family, your teachers and your peers, and get something going. No matter how big or small, action is change. Starting Girl Up Brisbane has been one of the most exciting, challenging, and empowering steps I’ve ever taken. We’ve grown to have over 50 club members, placed in the top 20 clubs worldwide with the funds we raised to combat gender-based violence. Most recently we launched a Podcast, entitled Unapologetic, which is available on Spotify. (Listen to Imogen and our CEO, Bel, chat about the power of young people, leadership, mindset and goals here).

As school returns and students step into new and often daunting leadership positions, know that if you have the passion for change, you just need to create it. You have so many chances to join new groups and to launch new ideas, so make the most of all of it, and have the confidence, belief, and faith in yourself that you can do anything you set your mind to! The first step to starting might be hard, however leadership is a journey filled with reward like no other.

Imogen Ryan Kerr, 19

PS – If you want to join Girl Up Brisbane, head to our Instagram (@girlupbrisbane) or email us (