Walcha Central School students pitch their community minded ideas

MAKING IT HAPPEN: The 2018 Walcha Central School Youth Frontiers cohort
MAKING IT HAPPEN: The 2018 Walcha Central School Youth Frontiers cohort

Last Wednesday  a group of Walcha Central School students pitched ideas to community members for a wide range of projects to improve the lives of others as part of their participation in the 2018 Youth Frontiers program.

Youth Frontiers is an initiative of the NSW Government that targets students aged 12-16 years, with the capacity to benefit from the support of a mentor. Each year, more than 1,200 young people have the opportunity to participate in the program.

This is the second year Walcha Central School has participated in the program, and the participation rate has tripled since last year with 15 students aiming to complete ten projects .

During the Youth Frontiers ‘Pitch It’ group session in the school library this week a panel of community members listened to presentations on a wide range of ideas from improving  students mental and physical health  to starting a local support group for carers of those who are diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum.

Presentations given included:

  • 'Triathlon with a Twist' - a fun twist on typical triathlons, instead incorporating one physical activity, one creative activity and one trivia activity so that whether you're good at sport, the arts or academics, there's something for you.
  • 'Jump Rope for Heart' - physical activity for mental wellbeing 
  • Care kits for sick kids and their families staying at Ronald McDonald House
  • A Pen Pal program to write to kids who are in hospital or house-bound in Armidale
  • A local Walcha support group for families of those with the Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • An anti-bullying initiative to educate students how to be aware and respond.

The first project to kick off builds on a successful project completed last year by Thomas Micallef to connect the elderly  residents of the Riverview Hostel and Willow Wing day centre with the school community.

Dallas Foster was inspired by this project as his great-grandmother  attends Willow Wing and he says when she is not there she is very isolated, so  the facility is very important to them as a family.

Dallas plans to take Year 4 students to visit Willow Wing, to  listen to and learn from resident's happy memories from their lifetime. The students will then come back to school and create artworks based on these recollections to give to the residents.

Bina Armstrong, head teacher of secondary studies at Walcha Central School  thanked the panel and the mentors, as well as the older students who were helping the younger ones.

“I’d also like to thank our youth officer Karen Barnes who is pulling all this together at 90 miles an hour,” she said. “ I think it’s amazing – I’m looking forward to the next six months.”

The students and their mentors will spend at least 35 hours over the next six months delivering the projects.

“The program gives mentees an opportunity to build life skills and self-confidence through mentoring support and by undertaking a community engagement activity,” said  Mrs Armstrong.