Catriona’s trip of a lifetime

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A Scottish junior cross country champion is volunteering to work in Africa for a charity that helps lift young women runners out of poverty.

Catriona Graves (18) from Milngavie is headed out to Ethiopia at the beginning of March for four months as part of a gap year project to work with a charity called the Yaya Girls.

The former Glasgow Academy pupil, explained, “The Yaya Girls is a charity that focuses on women’s empowerment, education and running.

“The programme provides scholarships to six young Ethiopian women from disadvantaged backgrounds to stay on the grounds of the Yaya Village resort for four months.”

The girls who attend the camps will get trained in five key area: English tuition, job skills, athletics training, health and nutrition and women’s empowerment.

Catriona, who is taking a gap year out before going to medical school in Edinburgh, said: “Like me, they want to run for their country, but if this is not possible the programme aims to help the girls become financially independent and be encouraged to fight for gender equality.”

A major part of the volunteering Catriona will be doing is teaching English as well as taking part in a cultural exchange programme.

Catriona added: “I’m looking forward to helping these girls, teaching them English and joining their running sessions. The camp is at almost 9,000ft so it will be great altitude training for me in advance of the summer hill-running season back here in Scotland.”

The athlete who won the U18 woman’s Scottish National title last year and is hoping to challenge for a podium place in this year’s U20 age group is currently fundraising for her visit.

She said: “I am currently fundraising for the Yaya Girls and have been holding cake sales at local cross country races.”

A couple of weeks ago she held a cake sale at the Garscube Schools’ cross country championships in Maryhill and is hoping people will donate to help her raise even more money for this worthwhile cause.

To find out more about the Yaya Girls and to donate please visit: