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Championing Our Youth

Jul 16 2020

John Wooden a famous American basketball player and former coach once said, ‘Young people need models, not critics.’

In today’s complex and evolving environment, young people are faced with many pressures they should not have to tackle alone. Our CityCare Youth team have the privilege of coming alongside students in our community who need help to overcome barriers to success in life.

Our CityCare Youth program provides a range of school-based activities which include Youth COACH mentoring, Safe Spaces – involving sport, breakfast clubs and after-school hangouts, as well as facilitating ShineGirl and Strength personal development classes.

As a ShineGirl facilitator, it has been an incredible experience to observe students having “light bulb” moments during the course and watch them grow in confidence, cheer one another on and form meaningful relationships.  These personal development classes specifically focus on students learning to develop a positive sense of identity, confidence and hope for the future. Our goal is to help the students know their innate worth, develop emotional resilience and  understand that challenges can be overcome as they harness the power of choice.

We have received great feedback from the teachers and faculty who are able to witness their students engaging in important topics around issues that are not necessarily covered in the school curriculum. Observations that teachers have shared with us include, lower rates of absenteeism, increased levels of  punctuality, greater confidence and engagement in classes and  a visible boost in the general wellbeing of students who have completed these courses.

With restrictions in place during the pandemic, we did not have open access into schools which presented us with the new challenge to come up with fresh and innovative ways to continue to support these schools and their students. As we reached out to teachers, we learnt that one of their key needs was provision of non-perishable food items to help vulnerable students attending school who didn’t have anything to eat. Prior to the pandemic, statistics from Foodbank had shown that at least one in five children in Australia go to school without breakfast and the pandemic  had exacerbated this issue.

We made deliveries of food hampers and school pantry items to many of the local high schools over the past two months. It has provided great relief to the teachers who witness first-hand the impact this crisis is having on affected students and their families.

As restrictions ease, we are looking forward to re-engaging with our schools in Term 3, either through online courses or in person with social distancing measures. Whilst these past few months have been different, it has created a foundation for deeper connection with our partner schools and has inspired our joint commitment to championing  young people and empowering them to have hope for their future.

Heidi Paulo
Hillsong CityCare