Ascend: Leadership Through Athletics
Ascend uses mountain climbing as a way to help young women learn to navigate the tough terrain of a transition environment and acquire skills essential to succeed individually and work with others to lead change in their communities.
Ascend designs training programs that prepare teams for challenging mountaineering expeditions while promoting civic-mindedness through community service projects. The end goal is for girls and young women in Ascend programs to become more confident, more adept at working in teams and more resilient in their environments. Our approach expands the impact of each program by harnessing the power of media to tell the story, spreading the news of our teams’ accomplishments and providing inspiration to others.
In Afghanistan, young women participating in the Ascend program train together as a mountain climbing team, while also learning how to lead community service projects and develop their own leadership and communications skills. The first Ascend team made history by climbing a 16,500’ peak in the Hindu Kush in northeastern Afghanistan in August 2015. In 2016, the second Ascend team explored unclimbed peaks and continued to expand their community service projects. The 2017 team set a new record by climbing above 18,000’. Plans are underway for the 2018 training program to accomplish similar extraordinary athletic feats to demonstrate the abilities of Afghan women in their communities and on the mountaintops.