Meander Valley’s Changemaker Program work a Tassie first

The Meander Valley is on track to become the first Tasmanian municipality in which every high school will help deliver a project to give back to their communities.

Deloraine High School is the first school in the area to take part in the Changemaker Series, a six-week program delivered by JCP Empowering Youth.

Will Smith, JCP Empowering Youth director and Tasmania’s most recent Young Australian of the Year, said the program gave young people confidence, vital life skills, enhanced resilience and improved leadership abilities.

“It’s all about self-development first and then the flow on effect from that is that then they get to impact the community,” Mr Smith said.

“Each young person will create a project that they want to implement in the community. It can be something as simple as picking up rubbish or visiting an aged care home.”

Mr Smith said the program was made possible because of support from Meander Valley Council, the Beacon Foundation’s Collective Ed initiative and the Tasmanian Government.

“I’ve never heard of a municipality where every young person in grade five or above is implementing a project in the community,” he said.

“In the Meander Valley in four or five weeks time there’s 650 students that’ll be implementing positive impact projects in the community.”

(MOTIVATING YOUTH: JCP Empowering Youth director Will Smith talks with Connor Sydes and Abbey Beck at Deloraine High School on Friday. Picture: Phillip Biggs)

As part of the program, grade 10 students Connor Sydes and Abbey Beck organised a morning tea for school staff to thank them for their support during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’ve all become better versions of ourselves without knowing it,” Mr Sydes said.

Ms Beck said the program helped her plan for life after school.

“I hadn’t really planned anything but now I’ve got some idea of how I’m gonna get there,” she said.

Deloraine High School Principal David Lietzau said school staff challenged students to be the best version of themselves every day, but welcomed outside support.

“Someone whose not a teacher, who doesn’t have that familiarity of a teacher was able to come and work with our kids with a similar message framed a little differently to how we as teachers usually do it,” Mr Lietzau said.

“Seeing how kids have responded has been excellent.”



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