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February 2023: Ascend News



Instructor Training to Begin in April

Things are moving quickly with the Ascend program in Pakistan. Beginning in April, Ascend will start training a group of 10-15 women who will become Ascend Instructors for the program (Application Here). These women should have interest in and some experience with the outdoors, mountaineering, fitness or leadership. As part of their 3-month training, they will learn Wilderness First Aid, climbing and mountaineering basics, and outdoor skills and knowledge. They will also learn the mechanics of leading fitness and yoga classes and will be introduced to all five pillars of the Ascend program: leadership, service, mental health, fitness, and mountaineering.


After completing the three-month training, qualified trainees will be invited to become Instructor Apprentices. They will continue to further their own skills and knowledge to advance down the path to becoming full Instructors. At the same time, the Apprentices will be charged with leading the first cohort of participants through the 2-year Ascend program.


The application for women interested in becoming Instructors is on the Ascend website and we invite any women over the age of 18 and living in (or willing to move to) the Skardu area to apply.


To develop our pool of Pakistani instructors, Ascend is working with several Master Trainers; women from around the world who bring experience and expertise in first aid, wilderness survival, climbing and mountaineering, guiding, leadership development, fitness and more. The Master Trainers will live and work from Skardu, teaching and monitoring the Instructor Apprentices to ensure the highest standards of safety and competency.


Ascend is also on the search for a Program Manager, based in Skardu and tasked with running the day-to-day operations of the program (Job Description Here). This energetic woman doesn’t need any mountaineering experience but will need to come with other experience in management and program development.


As we build up our team in Pakistan, we are all very excited for what the coming months hold in store. We’ll be sure to share updates as they happen both through this newsletter and on social media.




Hike For Her Registration is Open

Ascend proudly invites you to the Hike For Her Fundraiser on April 29, 2023 near Bluemont, VA (an hour outside Washington, DC). We’ll be hiking a section of the Appalachian Trail starting at the Snickers Gap Trailhead. The hike will be an out-and-back route and you, the hiker, will be able to decide the distance you wish to travel. Everyone is invited to the After Party to celebrate and commiserate at the home of an Ascend supporter.


In addition to your registration, you have the option to fundraise for Ascend by asking family and friends to contribute to your hike in support of our mission. If you raise $400 or more, Ascend will comp your dinner or hike cost as our way of thanking you!


Sponsorship opportunities are also available here! If you have a business that believes in Ascend’s mission and would like others to know about it, sign up to be a sponsor or send an email to hikeforher@ascendathletics.org

We can’t wait to see you on the trail.



Climb Mountains. Move Mountains.

Communities and countries cannot have lasting peace without women's equal involvement. The UN Resolution on Women, Peace & Security lists the first pillar to peace as "participation", a demand for increased involvement of women at all levels of decision making. How can women claim their seat at the table if they are unsure how to make themselves heard?

Ascend helps women find their voices and take their places at the table by unlocking leadership qualities, helping them develop confidence to express themselves, and instilling courage and belief in their abilities. When you're on the side of a mountain with only yourself and your teammates to rely on, there is no room for self doubt. Ascend teaches participants to harness inner strength and to do things outside of their comfort zone.


Time and again we have seen that this program works because you help make it work. We cannot all be on the side of the mountain with these girls, but we can share the resources to get them there and help them be successful. Your past support has helped over 200 young women claim their place at the table. Help us reach the next cohort of girls in Pakistan in 2023 with your donation today.




Welcome Ascend's Newest Board Member

Welcome to Ascend’s newest board member, Sofyan Yusufi. Sofyan is a principal (equity partner) at Deloitte, serving as Risk and Financial Advisory leader for the International Development Organizations (IDO) practice. He is also a senior advisor at the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center. Sofyan has been indispensable in helping the Ascend program launch in Pakistan by providing introductions, connections and experiences. Sofyan believes that equity, inclusion, and equality should be at the core of everything we do. He serves as a mentor for US Pakistan Women’s Council, an organization dedicated to the wellbeing and inclusion of women in Pakistan. Yusufi routinely provides commentary and analysis on world economics, emerging digital trends and public policy, and governance.



Alumnae Updates

Ascend Alumnae around the world have been busy this past month. They are settling in, making new connections, and stepping outside of their comfort zones.


An Alumna in North Carolina (USA) has just accepted a scholarship to a university in New England. She has spent the last year working very hard to secure this opportunity and we wish her all the best in her studies.


Raihana Royayi in Canada started a new job taking steps to become more independent and self-sufficient in her new home; Habiba in Denmark participated in a project by Erasmus+ which consisted of young people from Ukraine, Romania and Turkey. Erasmus+ is the EU's programme to support education, training, youth and sport in Europe.


On January 14, our alumnae from Canada, Ireland, and Denmark participated in a global demonstration for Afghan women’s rights. We are proud these young women have found the courage to stand up publicly for issues that are important to them; a skill we work to strengthen when girls are in the program.


Alumnae in Dublin, Ireland gathered together for a wintry hike. Part of the purpose of the Alumnae Association is to keep former Ascend participants connected to one another in the spirit of having fun and supporting each another. Hiking boosts energy in body and mind and helps us all refill the well to tackle life's daily challenges.


Ascend Alumna Raihan, a 12th grade student in Canada and an aspiring photographer, shared her recent work.


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