Aim­ing to make a dif­fer­ence

Ovens & Murray Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - By CO­RAL COOKSLEY

COM­MU­NI­CA­TION, team build­ing, and lead­er­ship were among skills de­vel­oped by a group of Indigo Shire stu­dents un­der a new pro­gram that sprang into ac­tion at Beech­worth’s Old Pri­ory last week.

Cre­ated by Indigo Shire Coun­cil’s com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment team, the youth am­bas­sador pro­gram fol­lowed ex­ten­sive con­sul­ta­tion with young peo­ple, par­ents and ser­vice providers two years ago.

Youth worker Sal Kim­ber said lead­er­ship train­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties and stronger voices had been iden­ti­fied among needs for lo­cal young peo­ple.

The ses­sions, one each for pri­mary and high school stu­dents, were fa­cil­i­tated by pro­fes­sional lead­er­ship men­tors Rachel and Ol­lie Macin­doe from Mel­bourne-based The Meet­ing Space.

Ms Kim­ber said ju­nior am­bas­sadors from grade 5 rep­re­sented all fif­teen pri­mary schools in the Indigo Shire from Wah­gun­yah all the way to Sandy Creek.

“It was a fun and en­gag­ing first ses­sion that fo­cused on lead­er­ship, team­work and fundrais­ing in­clud­ing for Ti­mor Leste’s Atauro Is­land,” she said.

Twelve se­nior am­bas­sadors aged be­tween 14 and 18 were from high schools and rep­re­sented each shire com­mu­nity.

“They fo­cused on pos­i­tive and ef­fec­tive leader- ship, and built strong con­nec­tions be­tween them­selves too,” Ms Kim­ber said.

Needs and is­sues sur­round­ing youth men­tal health were also part of dis­cus­sions.

“Men­tal health was an over­all pas­sion for the group and they will be con­tribut­ing to the youth men­tal health strat­egy too,” Ms Kim­ber said.

Lead­er­ship men­tor Rachel Mur­ray said the am­bas­sadors had amaz­ing ideas with a pas­sion to be­come lead­ers and make change.

With teach­ing the am­bas­sadors skills in com­mu­ni­ca­tion, team work and lead­er­ship, Ms Kim­ber said young peo­ple would be en­gaged in cre­at­ing pos­i­tive change in their com­mu­ni­ties.

Tangam­balanga’s Zoe Isaac, a year 10 stu­dent from Tal­lan­gatta Sec­ondary Col­lege, said the fo­cus on team build­ing al­lowed the group to step back and look at what made a great team and a good leader.

Chiltern’s Jedd Dry­den, who is a Ruther­glen youth ac­tion group mem­ber, said his aim was to help im­prove men­tal health for young peo­ple in the shire as well as his lead­er­ship skills.

Ms Kim­ber said the Indigo Shire Youth Am­bas­sadors wanted to make a dif­fer­ence to peo­ple’s lives and their com­mu­ni­ties.

The ju­nior and se­nior am­bas­sador pro­grams will come to­gether at the next ses­sion in late Au­gust.

PHOTO: Co­ral Cooksley

FU­TURE LEAD­ERS: Indigo Shire’s Youth Am­bas­sador pro­gram par­tic­i­pants learnt new from Indigo youth worker Sal Kim­ber and lead­er­ship men­tors Rachel Mur­ray and Ol­lie Macin­doe last week.

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