FUNDING provided across the North East as part of the State Government’s Engage! 20182020 program at the beginning of this year has helped encourage a number of young people in the region to become more involved in their local communities.
One such young person is Chiltern resident Jedd Dryden.
A year eleven student, Jedd became involved in a number of youth initiatives in the region after attending an information session led by Indigo Shire Council youth officer Sal Kimber.
“I took a chance on that, and it just led to more and more opportunities,” he said.
Jedd is involved in the shire’s Youth Ambassador program, as well as working at planning events with the Rutherglen Youth Action Crew, and has also attended a youth politics camp.
He said that mental health was among the issues in the community that concerned him the most, having seen it affect a range of people within his community.
“The state of our youth mental health services needs to be improved,” he said.
“It’s a really big issue.”
Being involved with the various groups in the community has helped Jedd build up skills in event planning and management, as well as improve his people skills and personal confidence and his ability to deal with setbacks.
Already a skilled photographer and website designer, his ultimate career goal is to be a business owner and/or work in computer science, and Jedd said that the skills he was learning in the community would help him towards his future career.
He said he was glad to have the opportunity to participate in youth programs in the area and said it would help develop the leaders of the future.
“When the time comes, the people who want to step into that role know how to do so,” he said.
Another youth active in Indigo Shire communities is Border based teen Jai Butler, who is part of the Tangambalanga Youth Action Crew – which has already organised a music festival in their town - and is also part of a group organising a “Rainbow Ball” for the end of this year aimed at LGBTQ+ young people in the North East.
He said that he was excited to be a part of the forthcoming event. “It’s pretty cool to be a part of that,” he said.
“I think it shows the LGBTQ+ people in the region that they’re accepted and supported, and they can come to feel safe and have fun.”
He added that he hoped the ball will become an annual event.
Hoping to pursue a career in acting, Jai said that being involved in the community had helped his confidence immeasurably.
“I now know how to organise events and get things going in the community,” he said.
“It’s an amazing feeling.”
One of the other programs in the region to benefit from the Engage! 201820 funding was the Healthy Eating and Living Program at North East Support and Action for Youth (NESAY).
The program runs for five weeks and helps young people who need help developing their independent living skills, and the Engage! Funding will see it continue for the next two years.
With sessions having happened in Wangaratta, one currently happening in Benalla and one planned for later this year in Wodonga, Claire Anderson from NESAY said the classes were already making a difference for young people in the region.
She said the program had helped participants budget more efficiently and make connections with people in their community, which she said “offers them a sense of pride”.
Claire added that she had seen many people grow and change by participating in the program, from trying their hand at more complicated recipes to developing better social skills and making friends within the group.
She said some young people have been taking individual HEAL sessions, which has also helped their personal confidence.
For more information on the ongoing HEAL program, see nesay.com. au/healthy-eating-living-heal/, and for more details of what is happening for youth in the Indigo Shire, see the Indigo Shire (Youth Page) on Facebook.
YOUNG LEADER: Chiltern resident Jedd Dryden has gained confidence and found fulfilment working with local communities.
COMMUNITY SPIRIT: People involved in Indigo Shire’s Youth Ambassadors program (bottom row, from left) Arwen Cropley, Emily Payn, Zoe Isaac, Olive Russell; (middle row, from left) Jespah Cropley, Rachel Murray, Sal Kimber (Indigo Shire Council youth officer), Harmony Carmichael; and (top row, from left) Dion wright, Tiahn Barnard, Amelia leach Jedd Dryden, Ollie Murray, Leela Rosser and Harmony Carmichael.