Volunteer no ordinary teen

Young Star Supreme Award winner Ashleigh Keen-Burrow (16) has continued to care for others since...
Young Star Supreme Award winner Ashleigh Keen-Burrow (16) has continued to care for others since winning the award a year ago. Photo by Jonathan Chilton-Towle.
Spending most of your free time caring for the elderly is not something most teenage girls would relish doing, but Ashleigh Keen-Burrow (16) is not like most teenage girls.

Since she won the Young Star Supreme Award for outstanding community service last year, Ashleigh has continued her efforts to help others.

She had been volunteering at Marne Street Hospital for two years before winning the award, and after she won it she was offered a position as a caregiver.

Ashleigh said she had been caring for the elderly residents as a job for nearly 12 months and absolutely loved it. She also volunteers at the children's ward at Dunedin Hospital every Saturday and attends for longer periods during the school holidays.

She has just completed year 11 at Otago Girls' High School, and received a cultural blue for her contribution to community service.

She has also achieved her bronze and silver Duke of Edinburgh Awards and is set to complete her gold next year.

Ashleigh said she knew most girls her age did not have the same passion for volunteering, but she had never been particularly interested in the things many other girls were, such as shopping.

''I just felt I wasn't really doing anything with my Saturdays,'' she said when asked why she got involved at the Marne Street Hospital.

All her work and volunteering could get in the way of spending time with friends, but they understood and supported her, Ashleigh said.

She had had a bit of bad luck over the past year, the weather washing out events she was invited to attend because of her award. Both the Chinese New Year, where she was to light fireworks, and the 2012 Dunedin Trolley Derby, where she was to fire the starting gun, were rained off.

Ashleigh wants to continue helping others by training as a nurse when she leaves school.

Her mother, Amanda Burrow, said Ashleigh, the youngest of her four children, had always wanted to help others.

''She is an old head on young shoulders. She has always been as solid as a rock. I'm incredibly proud of her,'' she said.

- By Jonathan Chilton-Towle

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