High school students gather at UWS to turn dreams into reality
At a time where there’s lots of media focused on young people behaving badly, hundreds of high school students looking to make the world a better place have gathered at the University of Western Sydney to learn how to turn their dreams into a reality.
The UWS 10K Youth Leadership Master Class offered high school students from Year 9 – 12 the chance to learn more about the social issues they’re most passionate about.
From Youth and Globalisation to Sustainability and Mental Health, students worked with academic experts and not-for-profit agencies to increase their knowledge and skills to tackle some of the big issues of our time.
Representatives from Oxfam, Amnesty International, Hello Sunday Morning and the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre were on hand to work with young people to help direct their determination to make a positive change into actions with meaningful results.
UWS researcher Dr Philippa Collin, from the Young and Well CRC, says it’s time we stop treating young people as second class citizens and acknowledged their capabilities.
“Contrary to popular opinion, many young people are passionate and engaged with issues, and are eager to make their mark on the world,” she says.
“We’re seeing a real diversification in the ways young people define and participate in politics. We absolutely need to understand young people’s concerns and nurture civic engagement by enhancing opportunities for young people to learn and act while still at school”.
“What UWS is doing here is creating a platform for students to connect with academic experts, NGOs and young people leading action on critical social issues – the 10K Youth Leadership Master Class is a real catalyst for students to take their ideas out into the world to organise themselves and contribute to change.”
Jamie Moore, the Global Development Manager at Hello Sunday Morning, says social media could hold the key to changing our drinking culture and many other issues facing young people today.
Mr Moore helped design the youth-led Hello Sunday Morning website, which is an example of how social media can be used to take action to help curb problem drinking, one of the biggest mental health and wellbeing issues facing young people.
“Hello Sunday Morning has successfully engaged young people in a conversation around responsible drinking in a way that no government campaign has ever done before,” he says.
“Technology and social media are often seen as ‘dumbing down’ society, but in reality young people are more connected and engaged with the wider community than they have ever been,”
“As an organisation we have been really proactive in harnessing the ways young people use social media to hold conversations that lead to positive change.”
The University of Western Sydney serves a growing and diverse region of over 1.3 million people, and closely works with schools, local organisations and government agencies to bring positive change to the community.
12 December 2012
Photo: Sally Tsoutas