In May 2022, ABC Takeover gathered 42 local young people for Shepparton's first-ever ABC Takeover Youth Summit. Participants were mostly Year 9 students and older, and there were students from each of the secondary schools in our region.

As part of the week-long program, participants talked about local issues that concerned them and workshopped ideas around how our community could address these challenges. Issues concerning gender identity, racism, mental health, alternative hands-on learning options and of course, homelessness were discussed.

Notably, the young people were given the platform and empowerment to seek solutions and with funding from FRRR, a number of these initiatives have been brought to life by local organisations who work with young people.

Lighthouse was the reipient of one of these grants and engaged the Reach program in response to the young peoples concerns around mental health. The following is an article published in the Shepparton News about Reach's visit to Greater Shepparton Secondary College:

SN Photo

A youth-led initiative, Reach tackles hard conversations like mental health and works with young people to equip them with the right tools to prepare them for life’s challenges.

Over the past couple of months, they’ve been working with students from Greater Shepparton Secondary College in a series of workshops to establish this.

Reach senior facilitator and flagship programs manager Jana Christodoulou recently completed a workshop at the school with her team.

Reach was able to visit GSSC thanks to funding leveraged from the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) by Lighthouse Project.

In these workshops, the job of the Reach facilitators is to prompt and facilitate conversations. But ultimately, it’s directed by the students, Ms Christodoulou said.

“We created an environment to explore who they are and learn more about their peers,” she said.

“The workshop was pretty incredible, especially this time round, as we had smaller groups, and they felt a lot more comfortable and safe, and the environment allowed them to become open and vulnerable.

“We had a lot of really hard-hitting stories that were shared by young people and some that their peers did not know about, and having that helps create an understanding of one another.

“What we’re doing is giving people the tools to speak truthfully and seek help when they need or feel confident learning how to step into the version of the person they want to be.”

Following these workshops, Ms Christodoulou said they encourage students to build on their developments by attending regularly-run camps and workshops outside of school.

Ms Christodoulou said they hoped to visit more schools in the Goulburn Valley and encouraged schools to reach out and get involved.

She also said the program is not just for schools either; workplaces can get involved in their programs Wake By Reach.

“There’s also another kind of opportunity we want to explore, and that’s to provide these tools to teachers so they can grow in the community,” she said.

Wake By Reach runs a variety of workshops ranging from resilience work and leadership workshops to bridging gaps between generations in the workplace.

To get Reach to visit your school or workplace, reach out to them via their website,  or contact Amy De Paola at Lighthouse to discuss the 2024 Reach visits.

Article credit: Nicola Ceccato, Shepparton News

Photo credit: Rechelle Zammit

Greater Shepparton Lighthouse Project acknowledges and pays respect to the traditional custodians of the Shepparton region on whose lands we are located, the Yorta Yorta peoples and their Elders past, present and emerging. Greater Shepparton Lighthouse Project recognises, respects and supports all community members regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, ability, or age.

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