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MAD 2019 – Preparing for Leadership

By October 27, 2019Uncategorised

The Making a Difference: Student Leadership Summit is for Year 9-12 students across Australia and New Zealand who wish to take on leadership roles within their schools. The summit is designed to equip the girls with the skills and tools to continue their leadership journey, while also meeting other likeminded students and hear from speakers and leaders within the community.

This year MAD was hosted in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Christchurch. Hear some of the yTeam’s highlight moments.


Bronte Grancourt | 2017 SLC participant | Nurturing, team player, adrenaline-enthusiast | “I once played the White Rabbit in an Alice in Wonderland performance”

My highlight was seeing the group of young leaders in the same room and bouncing off each other. From the students, to the mentors, to the guest speakers, everyone was creating such an empowering environment that allowed the participants to give it their all. By the final challenge everyone was working as a larger team, unified and on the same wave length. Seeing the final results and knowing how far each of them had come was a highlight. Not to mention the amazing work that all the first-time mentors did, jumping with both feet into the conference and shining bright.

Imogen Ryan-Kerr | 2019 SLC participant | Hard working, enthusiastic, loving | “I had a Hungarian accent when I first started talking… I don’t know how that happened!”

A highlight moment from mentoring at MAD Conference was when a quiet girl in my group finally developed the confidence to take part in our activities and gave me a big hug at the end, which was such a lovely moment for me!

Sophie Bates | 2018 SLC participant | Enthusiastic, supportive, outgoing | “I was born in Singapore and lived in Shanghai for the first 3 years of my life”

A huge highlight from the conference for me was listening to Emma Hannigan speak about her journey and the adversity she faced to get to where she is now. She reinforced that with anything you fully commit to, there will be 95% of people that love what you do and 5% of people that will hate it. She said that you’ll never be able to please everyone, so instead you need to focus on what you’re passionate about and not let people’s opinions sway your actions or decisions. She definitely made me feel much more confident and motivated me to back myself more when those tricky decisions and situations arise.

Maggie Grigg | 2019 SLC participant | Bubbly, curious, passionate | “I shaved my head this year for World’s Greatest Shave”

A highlight during my conference was during one of the night debrief sessions, when everyone felt so comfortable sharing their thoughts in opinions in a space with people they’d met only a few days before. I thought it was incredible that such an inviting atmosphere could be created in such a small amount of time and to see the trust build up between everyone was truly special.

Click here for the full photo album!


Caitlin Oschadleus | 2019 SLC participant | Genuine, positive, charismatic | “One of my ancestors wrote the German National Anthem”

I found MAD to be absolutely incredible and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to wear the blue in order to connect with, and invest in, upcoming female leaders. I think that any summit like this enables young women to connect with each other, gain confidence and equip themselves with a leadership mindset and skills that will last long after graduating from school. One of my highlights from the day would be the session where we focused on values and what drives us individually as people. I loved this activity because it allowed all of us to strip back everything and recognise what our two core values are, mine being spirituality and love, as well as seeing how so many values are interwoven. It also enabled authentic, open conversations with the students, allowing us to recognise the importance of understanding the values and passions of the people around us!

Sarah Hodge | 2019 SLC participant | Excitable, kind, positive | “I am OBSESSED with sunflowers”

My MAD highlight was when I got to talk to participants one on one about their core values. I felt that it was an amazing way to truly connect and get to know these girls and understand their passions in a really authentic way. Being so present with the people we were working with allowed us to be open and vulnerable, which was a really meaningful experience. Throughout the rest of the conference I was able to see girls living true to their values which made me so happy for them and all the people around them that I know they will positively impact.

Lauren Hocking | 2019 SLC participant | Positive, friendly, reliable | “I am allergic to egg, dairy and gluten”

I absolutely loved meeting and interacting with all the girls who came to the Making a Difference summit, and a particular highlight for me personally was listening to the array of guest speakers. I found it so interesting to hear all their different stories and understand where leadership skills could take me into life beyond school. I especially connected with Rachel Raez’ presentation focussed around how ‘action inspires motivation’. The presentation allowed us all to create, visualise and follow up on a big goal, starting with one small action we would do by 11am the next day to begin working towards it. I am so grateful to have been a mentor at the summit and can’t wait to continue volunteering with yLead in the future!

Click here for the full photo album!


Gabi Newman | 2016 SLC participant | Random, friendly, inquisitive | “Walking frustrates me to no end, biking and running make so much more sense as a mode of getting from A to B.”

My MAD highlight was watching the girls flourish over the three days as they grew in confidence, built connections, and started to embrace their 0.06%. I enjoyed listening to their ideas and witnessing the way these contributions were received with an open mind. It’s an incredible privilege to be a part of a MAD and feeling refreshingly motivated and inspired, is a given. It was extra special to be part of MAD at my former school Rangi Ruru, a community that allowed me to push the limits of my potential. By the summit’s end, I had a strong sense that MAD had fostered feelings of empowerment amongst the girls.

Click here for the full photo album!


Nesceda Blake | 2015 MAD participant | Effervescent, theatrical, ambivert | “I try to carry my kazoo with me as much as possible. You never know when you’ll need a kazoo.”

My highlight of MAD 2019 was definitely seeing the connection and friendship that formed between the girls over the two days. I think that all of them, though from different schools, came to realise that together, they share the willingness and drive to lead, change, and be their best selves. Seeing so much drive and intelligence in one room was incredible! It was also wonderful to see how these young women came to acknowledge themselves as leaders, not in the future, but now. MAD has a brilliant way of facilitating that process for such young, inspiring and all-round impressive girls.

Natasha Hawkins | 2017 MAD participant | Passionate, hardworking, caring | “If you give me a long word or phrase I can tell you exactly how many letters it has!”

My highlight from MAD would definitely have to be watching the participants grow between the beginning and the end of the conference. Obviously you’ve only got two days to get to know the participants, but it’s actually wild how the vibe changes from day one to day two. Once everyone settles in the conference space, it becomes an environment where everyone feels welcomed and valued and it’s really cool to watch people step outside their comfort zones because they are in an environment where they feel safe to do so.

Click here for the full photo album!