Homelessness, bullying and mental heath issues – they’re some of the big topics our country’s leaders are yet to find an answer to, but South Coast students are tackling them head on.
In recent months, students from Batemans Bay, Moruya and Ulladulla High Schools have been working to make a positive change in their communities through the Youth Frontiers program.
The youth mentoring program, run by the NSW Government in conjunction with the YWCA, targets young people aged 12-16 years seeking to develop their leadership and civic engagement skills.
Working with a mentor, students choose an area of interest or an issue affecting their community and develop a project to enact change.
Last month, students shared their work at a Youth Frontiers student showcase held at Batemans Bay High School.
Bay High’s Youth Frontiers coordinator, Bec Pleasant, said the program gave students a platform to make a real change in the world beyond the classroom.
“It gives them an opportunity to take something they are passionate about and do something about it through action, as opposed to just wishing things would get better,” Ms Pleasant said.
She said it was inspiring to see students blossom while taking part in the program.
“Their confidence has grown enormously and they gain a lot of skills working in a collaborative environment,” she said.
“Their communication skills have improved, their organisation and project management – all those skills which our students need as they enter the workforce and future study.”
Acting director of educational leadership, Greg McDonald, said the program challenged assumptions about what students could learn at school.
“Schools are providing opportunities for students to partner with people in the community and to develop skills that are going to help them well beyond their time here at the school,” Mr McDonald said.
“The civic-minded nature of the projects really gives us hope these are worthwhile endeavours and our students are going to be positive contributors to society as a result.”
Moruya High School students Bonnie Rouch, Ava Weymans and Emily Fisk were just three of more than 1200 students across the state to take part in the program.
Their project involved gathering packages of essential items for women doing it tough in the Moruya area.
“The main focus was to make an impact in women’s and girls’ lives. We wanted to collect donations that would help in daily life, like essential items, cleaning products and hygiene products,” Bonnie said.
The group has donated more than 20 packages to date.