Men­tor stands out

Midland Reporter - - Front Page - Sarah Brookes

SHOOT­ING hoops at a Mid­land park to help indige­nous young­sters stay out of trou­ble has turned into a full-time job for Swan View res­i­dent Matthew Bill, who is a fi­nal­ist in this year’s WA Youth Awards.

Mr Bill (22, pic­tured) is em­ployed as a youth out­reach worker by the Shire of Mun­dar­ing, where he works tire­lessly with fam­i­lies in the com­mu­nity to help them be ac­tively in­volved in their chil­dren’s lives.

“A few years ago I started play­ing bas­ket­ball with kids in a park on Hoo­ley Road for a few hours af­ter school to give them some­thing to do,” he said.

“Then schools started ask­ing me to hang out with kids who were run­ning amok and see if I could keep them in class.”

Mr Bill now men­tors stu­dents from four pri­mary schools and a high school, help­ing those who are tru­ant from class, sus­pended from school or at risk of dis­en­gage­ment in the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem.

This year he de­vel­oped a yarn­ing cir­cle at a lo­cal pri­mary school so younger stu­dents could in­ter­act with older boys from the nearby high school to make the tran­si­tion to high school eas­ier and give older stu­dents lead­er­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Mr Bill also spends his own time men­tor­ing young peo­ple, even pick­ing them up to get them to school.

“Ev­ery morn­ing with my pop we drive around pick­ing up kids, we give them break­fast and get them to school for the day,” he said.

“I love see­ing kids get an op­por­tu­nity and giv­ing it a crack by giv­ing them the tools to suc­ceed.

“A lot of th­ese kids don’t have a male role model for a bunch of dif­fer­ent rea­sons, but drugs and al­co­hol are a huge is­sue lead­ing to ei­ther par­ents not be­ing there or end­ing up in jail.”

Mr Bill said he was shocked to be nom­i­nated in the WA Youth Awards, which recog­nise young West Aus­tralians aged 12 to 25 years for their achieve­ments and con­tri­bu­tions to the com­mu­nity.

“It’s wicked to be recog­nised, es­pe­cially in the com­mu­nity leader cat­e­gory,” he said.

Win­ners of the WA Youth Awards will be an­nounced on Thurs­day, Oc­to­ber 12, at the State Theatre Cen­tre.

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