Personal account: Elizabeth Ainge

Try your hardest, even when things are difficult, says I Can's volunteer fundraiser.

The best advice I've had

Always try hard. I was told this by teachers when I was at I Can's Dawn House School, which provides support for children and young people who have severe communication disabilities. They encouraged me to always keep going, even when things are difficult. I have remembered it ever since, and having a communication disability has not stopped me achieving a lot in my life. I would pass that advice on to anyone.

The biggest challenge I've faced

A constant challenge for me is finding jobs. It is much harder for me with my communication problems. The job interviews are the most difficult bits because I can sometimes struggle to answer the questions. I do interviews on my own, but I always go to my parents for advice beforehand - they help me understand what questions I should ask and to get my head around the job in question.

I've been a fundraiser for I Can ever since I started at Dawn House School - more than 10 years now. Probably the hardest fundraising challenge I've faced was climbing Mount Etna. It was a really amazing walk. I remember standing and watching the lava flow when we got to the top of the mountain.

You don't see that every day. I didn't even have to do too much training, because I was doing so much walking and running about by working in a hospital. I was so proud of myself when I finished - I'd raised £2,500.

My greatest hit

I was the first person at Dawn House School to get a GCSE in maths, and I'm also proud of getting my Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award when I was 19.

The part of the award I enjoyed most was the volunteering and helping children at Brownies, but I struggled with some activities because my coordination isn't very good. I have had many operations on my ears, so I wasn't great at things such as archery.

My worst moment

When I was told that my house was infested with bed bugs - it was awful.

My top tip

Probably just to believe in yourself. If I hadn't gone to Dawn House I wouldn't be doing what I am doing now. They have helped me so much, which is why I now try as hard as I can to help them raise money.

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