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2020, as told by the yTeam!

By December 14, 2020Team

2020 has been a year like no other. We’ve ridden the highs and lows, adapting to every curveball that was thrown our way. Through adversity and challenge, yLead has demonstrated creativity and resilience.


From starting the year with a cracking conference season and busy Term 1, to then facing potential closure, this year we’ve seen it all. We took programs online, bringing young people and schools together all around Australia and New Zealand. We ran our first ever NZ-led Rangatira. We created new online workshops and webinars. We added value to our community through resources and challenges.

As 2020 comes to a close, we wanted to hear from the people who helped keep our door open. Here is 2020, as told by the yTeam!

When everything was rapidly changing and we were going into lockdown towards the start of the year, it was the constant support and continuity of my connection with yLead that brought me so much comfort. Whether it was Georgia’s workouts, ‘Leading in Lockdown’ webinars or purely talking to my yLead friends, I felt so supported and proud to be a part of this community. The adversity yLead showed to get through this year was incredible, and I think it’s a true testament to the community of leaders behind the organisation! 2020 has been a bit whacky, but as per usual there have been so many yLead highlights, and I am so proud and grateful to have been a part of some of them!

-Molly Raynor, WA

2020… the thing that stands out for me the most isn’t actually COVID itself, but all the incredible things that came from it. And the biggest thing for me this year has been yLead, and the connections I’ve made and strengthened this year, despite lockdown. This is just a huge testament to yLead and the community it collects and attracts. As always, and as I’ve said many times before, I have no idea where I would be without yLead, but it’s highlighted itself even more this year. This year I have met some of my now closest people to me, I’ve strengthened relationships I never thought I would, and that would never have happened without the power of yLead and its community. I love people and the power of the impact they can have. That was highlighted to me even more through witnessing Keep The Door Open, and it’s something I’m so grateful to have been able to see and be a part of. This community is one of my favourite things in the world and I have all of you to thank for that.

-Mika Francis, QLD

yLead kind of felt like the rock that held this year together for a lot of people – the way the community is just always there full of love no matter what. Seeing everyone’s faces online this year was such a highlight for me because it really showed that we truly are all in this together and the famous yLead #good vibes will always help lift people’s spirits and empower people to live abundantly. Endless gratitude for the team, always.

-Alisha McMullen, WA

Although 2020 had its ups and downs, I am super grateful that I was apart of the yLead community through these unpredictable times. If there was a highlight in particular that stood out for me this year, it would be yConnect 2020 as it allowed me to connect with the many yTeamers involved across Australia and New Zealand. Although we weren’t all together face to face, it felt like we were all in the one room, something I can look back on for years to come. It gave me a sense of true connection!!

-Jack Drury, QLD

When reflecting back on the roller coaster year that was, one thing is certain; I am the most grateful that I had my yLead family to laugh with, cry with and lean on through it all. 2020 will for sure be an unforgettable year, but amidst all the chaos and change, the most memorable part for me was the growth I experienced and I wholeheartedly have yLead to thank for that. In a time where the world felt so divided, with the power of Zoom I made some incredible connections with people from all across Australia and New Zealand when attending my first yConnect. The power and passion of this community shone right through my computer screen and truly touched my heart. Learning to evolve and discover our personal journey was so special and it gave me the courage to continue to climb the uncertain path of life. To have been given the opportunity to contribute and connect with students from schools across Brisbane is something I will never take for grated. I am grateful to have had so many opportunities that have allowed me to grow as an individual and more importantly inspire students that leadership is possible, even in a pandemic. I look back on this year and smile knowing that wherever life’s path will lead, one thing will remain the same; the support and passion that comes from yLead and the people in it.

-Jess Faulks, QLD

Usually, I find it difficult to pinpoint and explain why something means so much to me. But with yLead, it’s different because I know exactly why; yLead helps people feel a little less lonely. I first met yLead at ASLC Melbourne in 2019 and this year, I mentored for the first time, learning so much along the way. Living in Melbourne during my first year of attending my dream university in 2020 was an absolute whirlwind. It was admittedly hard to cope with the reality that the ‘first year experience’ I’d fantasised about since I was twelve wasn’t going to pan out how I wanted it to, and even though I had so many friends just a text away, it was still really difficult. But yLead helped me remember that I am not alone and never will be. Being part of such an inclusive, positive community brings to mind so many emotions that I’m not skilled enough to label. But I think that’s the beauty of it. Interacting with yLead has helped me come to terms with the fact that it’s okay to feel things in the moment and take time to process them. As someone who constantly feels ‘on the go’, taking the time out of my day to ponder upon and evaluate my feelings has helped me get through this confusing, unfair year.

2020 was not a write-off. And 2021 will be better.

-Bellicia Seminiano, VIC

This year was a big one for our NZ yTeam, taking on the challenge of running Rangatira entirely on our own! I feel so fortunate to have been a part of Rangatira this year, especially with the super star leadership team we had. Despite having two days as opposed to three with the participants, the growth they experienced was immense and I’m really proud of the atmosphere that we were able to create. I also had the privilege of attending yConnect via Zoom this year. Getting to form connections with the wider yTeam was amazing and it definitely feels nice having made some extremely supportive and inspiring Facebook friends. Even through the screen I felt that special yLead vibe that took me right back to my first conference in 2018. Big shout out to the yTeam for making the most of a really tricky year!

-Kiara Klopper, NZ

Prior to 2020, I learnt you can’t control what happens to you, but you can control how you respond to it. Leadership is about how you respond to a situation rather the situation itself. Leadership is about embracing kindness, love and passion to make this world a better place. yLead has taught me anything is possible. yLead has taught me the importance of flexibility. yLead has given me the opportunity to form connections. yLead has given me courage to put my thoughts into action. At the end of 2019 I wrote an essay about leadership which was titled “from little things big things grow”.  Sometimes we get caught up in our own perspective of the little things and we loose track of our overall goal. When this is happening, we forget to thank the people around us who are trying their best. We forget to appreciate how lucky we are. The year of 2020 has been a year of challenge. I think back to March. How do you explain to a young girl with ASD and ID that she can’t touch everything she sees, she can’t hug everyone at school, the “all abilities” netball competition has been cancelled and all her mainstream peers still get the opportunity to play netball? How do you help a young adult with microcephaly adapt to the big changes in her life when her daily routine no longer works because the gyms, pool, cafes, libraries and outdoor activities have closed? The year of 2020 has proven anything is possible when you start small. For me, 2020 has been a blast. 2020 has been a year of opportunity. 2020 has been a year full of memories. 2020 has been a year where we have become stronger together. Thank you to everyone who has made 2020 the wonderful year that it was. I’m thankful for yLead, the people of yLead, the yLead community and the atmosphere we create from yLead. Finally it wouldn’t be me if I finished here.

2020: “Sometimes you have to rethink the things you thought you thought through” Winnie the Pooh

-Bridget Muir, WA

Four years ago, I would never have thought I’d be where I am today; graduating from university and about to enter the teaching profession. This could not have been possible without the beautiful friends I’ve created within yLead; the constant support I’ve received and love I’ve been provided with. I’ve grown in confidence and strength over the last four years and I give credit to yLead for creating an environment and space which has allowed me to do so. 2020 has been an insane year with so many challenges, copious amounts of uncertainty and constant setbacks. But one thing 2020 has taught me is to realise my capabilities, my worth and my strengths and that’s a lesson I’m forever grateful for. I’m thankful for the space and environment yLead creates and the incredible people it brings together and for making 2020 a year in which connection has been stronger than ever.

-Alex Barnes, QLD

I can’t wait to be involved in yLead this coming year and help out as a mentor at the 2021 ASLC in Brisbane. I have such an appreciation for yLead as it taught me so many things and gave me great memories. Honestly yLead has made me so much more appreciative, enthusiastic, understanding and more. Through the skills I was taught at 2020 ASLC, I was able to overcome all my obstacles this year both in and out of school while always retaining a smile and positive attitude (even when things got really tough). For this I say thank you to everyone at yLead! You have all changed my life and touched my heart.

-Billy Brennan, QLD

yLead 2020

Against the backdrop of the global Coronavirus pandemic, the events of 2020 brought new challenges no one was prepared for, changing the way we live and how we connect with each other. Yet through it all, yLead kept the door open and continued its mission of developing confident, motivated and skilled young leaders.

2020 gave me a new love and appreciation for this organisation. The environment and energy created within the yLead community is second to none, having the undying support from the teams in Australia and New Zealand meant that Rangatira 2020 was able to still happen. This year only reminded us how strong we truly are together.

This year has been a rollercoaster, and while we can only cross our fingers and toes in hope that 2021 will be better, I have never felt more empowered to make real, impactful change in this world, and for that, I have yLead to thank. As 2020 ends and we prepare for the year ahead, my journey alongside the yTeam has given me the strength, knowledge and tools to make 2021 the year for me.


-Joe Walding-Karaitiana