Crystal establishes a clear vision for her future

It's been a year of ups and downs for Crystal as she navigates the tricky teenage years. But her dedication to her studies has set her on the right track to achieving her goals.

For Crystal and her family, sponsorship through The Smith Family came as a much needed lifeline. Ralph and Delore, Crystal's grandparents, found themselves as primary caregivers to the youngster 11 years ago, at a time when they were just starting to think about retirement. Both on aged pensions, providing for Crystal and her brother Nathan was tough. As the students got older, the financial pressure intensified with school expenses increasing. The family was referred to The Smith Family four years ago and Crystal, now 15, and Nathan, now 13, started receiving sponsorship.

Crystal sitting in the library reading

I'm just thrilled with the support that I've had. Since I've been receiving the help, it's been brilliant and it opens a few doors and it takes a lot of weight off us. I'd like to say [to supporters] that you're putting your money in the right place. These kids are going to rule this world one day, so it's best to start them off right.

Delore, Crystal's Grandmother

Thanks to the generosity of her sponsor, things quickly began to turn around for Crystal and her relieved Grandmother, Delore. The financial assistance ensured they had money to pay for school essentials like books, excursions, uniforms and even a laptop - a compulsory requirement at Crystal's school.

Delore says the whole family is so grateful for the generosity of The Smith Family sponsors and knows Crystal and Nathan are too. "[Crystal] knows where the money comes from and it makes her appreciate what she gets. She knows without it, we couldn't do what we do. This is where it's good for her because it's character building. Any child who can learn to appreciate and thank people, that's a good thing."

With a clear passion for helping others, Crystal has taken on a TAFE course, spending a day and a half each week studying towards her Certificate III in Children's Services. So committed, she even took on a part-time job at the local butcher's store to help cover some of the additional fees. The two year course covers the basics of child care including nutrition, development, play and learning. It's a challenge she's relishing. As part of the Certificate, she's been on placement at a local child care centre, something she describes as "fun" and "interesting".

She's really enjoying seeing the progress the children make in such a short amount of time and that she can see the value of childcare in improving children's readiness for school. "It gets the children more socially active, like playing with friends and those sorts of things. [We] teach them different colours and numbers and things like that. Basic stuff that is the starting point for when they go to school," she says.

Working with all of the different ages, you can really see the different stages that they go through.

Crystal on placement at a local child care centre

Crystal standing with her mum

Delore with her Granddaughter Crystal

The support provided to her through the Learning for Life program has helped make opportunities like TAFE possible, equipping Crystal with the things she needs to progress her education. Additionally, her Learning for Life Worker, Sam has provided her with support and connected her to The Smith Family's reading program student2student, as a mentor to younger students struggling with their reading.

With the support she's received, Crystal is confident about the future and is committed to finishing school to ensure she has as many options as possible. "I try a lot harder to pass everything because I want to finish TAFE but at the same time get a good education with my schooling. They are two very different situations of learning and they contain very different workloads within them. Juggling them is difficult, but getting the extra help allows me to get it done."

And Delore is confident too; full of optimism for Crystal's future as a result of the help she's received. "I believe that education is wonderful. I think that having a choice and knowing what you want to be and where you want to go, and using your education for that reason is great," says Delore. "She has had that opportunity, but she has only had it because we have had the help from The Smith Family, because with our pension, there is no way that we could have afforded any of the things that she needed."

Good luck Crystal - we know you can do it!