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November 2023: Ascend News


Invest in Her, Transform the World

"After joining Ascend I found myself aiming to conquer big mountains and setting goals that I never thought were possible to achieve as a girl. " - Ascend Participant

Investing in a girl can change her future. It is the main driving force behind Ascend’s mission and is born out every day in our programs in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This investment is only possible because of the commitment of money, resources and time that each individual - each one of YOU - makes every day.

In 2023 alone, you helped train and employ 16 female Ascend Instructors in Pakistan and Afghanistan, giving them valuable facilitation skills and a regular source of income. Those 16 women have provided direct instruction and transfer of knowledge to over 500 women in the last 6 months alone. In addition to daily program sessions, Ascend Instructors have taught school children about the impacts of climate change and led a community clean up day; they have delivered introductory yoga classes to local women; taken school groups on hikes and led a rock climbing session for hearing-impaired students. With your investment, they are showing other girls how to overcome challenges and tap into their potential for greatness.

So much has already been accomplished, but there are so many more girls to reach. We are on track to triple the number of girls reached in 2024, but we need you to make it happen.

Your investment today ensures even more girls benefit from leadership, health and outdoor activities in 2024. To continue offering these opportunities, our mission is to secure $100,000 in funds by the close of 2023, enabling us to foster and sustain Ascend's three pivotal programs, all rooted in our unwavering core values. Every donation will bring us closer to this goal and we are excited to offer a plethora of ways to invest in girls.

Are YOU ready to be a catalyst for change in 2024? Head to our website to learn about all the different ways to #InvestInHER this year and help us reach our goal.


Updates from the Field

Looking back on 2023, this has been an exceptional year for Ascend with the launch of the program in Pakistan and the remarkable relaunch in Afghanistan. The impact of all our efforts is already being felt and will only grow. We look forward to 2024.

This October, the Afghanistan program was in full swing. Instructors had remote lessons with Emily, the Master Trainer residing in Pakistan, to strengthen their knowledge of fitness, movement and mind-body connection. In addition, the 40 participants dove into the Environmental Stewardship pillar which involved a field trip to select outdoor locations to witness and discuss implications of pollution and how to mitigate these issues at a local level. Next month participants will spend time improving first aid knowledge and delivering community service projects.

In Pakistan, the Instructor Trainees spent a week with volunteers Sean and Sarah from SportRock Gym in Virginia, learning the skills and competencies that will help them become Single Pitch Instructor certified. They put their new knowledge to use immediately when leading a top rope climbing outing for students from the local school for the hearing-impaired. In addition, the ITs spent more time hiking, camping, and climbing and will soon settle into learning facilitation best-practices, leadership skills and mental health training.

What has been learned and put into practice in less than a year is no small feat. For sure the Instructors desire to learn and share with others that makes this possible, but your financial support has and continues to be what keeps these programs to empower women moving forward. It is with immense gratitude for your support that we keep pushing to do more for the women and girls who join our programs with open hearts and open minds. Thank you!


Reflections of a Volunteer

This poem was written by Sarah Yun, SPI following her time spent volunteering and mentoring with Ascend Athletics in Pakistan this October.

We show up for our growth.

We felt a spark as we climbed and decided to follow it.

As we connect with the mountains, we start to see ourselves more clearly.

We start to imagine what we could be.

The strength that is within us starts to transform from a whisper to a voice.

With the encouragement of our partners and our mentors we feel supported to open ourselves up to the vulnerability it takes to rise.

We learn, we try, we fall, we cry, we exhaust and replenish again and again until that voice inside us starts to scream so loudly we cannot ignore its cry.

We cry because we see that we can become so much more than what our limited perception has allowed our existence to be so far.

And through these tears and this sweat a scream starts to emerge.

A scream for us to clench our lives back into our control and then as an artist we are suddenly transformed into the design that we created, and we were born to display.

The portrait of our intended rebirth is suddenly visible to shine.

We are strong and we stand together to continue to grow and to love those around us.

We climb for our growth, for our community, for our purpose.

We are the women of Ascend Athletics.

Rise with us!


Patagonia: A Champion for Ascend

Patagonia has been pivotal helping Ascend share our mission with new audiences, hosting screenings of the Patagonia produced film ASCEND! In October.

Ascend Alum, Haniya, was invited by Patagonia to share her experience following a showing of the film at the American Alpine Club’s Midwest Craggin’ Classic in Wisconsin. A crowd of about 50 people were captivated by the film and by Haniya’s brilliant public speaking and sharing of her story. A big thanks to the MagMile (Chicago), Fulton Market (Chicago), and St. Paul (Minnesota) Patagonia Stores as well as to the American Alpine Club.

Additionally, Patagonia Old Town in Alexandria, Virginia hosted a film screening at the end of the month followed by a riveting question and answer session with Ascend Alumnae Rabia and Mina. The event was filled with poignant questions, wonderful discussion and an amazing crowd of old and new Ascend supporters. Thank you to Old Town Patagonia as well as to our emcee Basima, and recent Pakistan volunteer Sarah for being a part of the event and a part of Ascend.

Do you have a Patagonia store near you or an idea for hosting a film screening at a different location, reach out to to get things rolling.

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