Twelve months ago we were in the midst of a once in a lifetime event. The need and ability to adapt in 2020 was thrust into action, with yLead moving online to impact 7,188 students across Australia and New Zealand. This year, Term 1 was, for a lot of us, the return to some sort of normality within life. This meant that yLead jumped back into almost 100% face-to-face facilitation across Australia! Not only did we, as a community, reach over 8,000 students (WOW!), but our yTeam volunteered over 2,200 hours of their own time to empower the next generation of young leaders. With countless incredible volunteers spanning Australia and New Zealand, we reached out to some of our team that joined us in the blue in Term 1 to get their perspective on their experiences over the past three months.
Isabel Palmer | South Australia
Imagine volunteering at your first ever In School as a yTeamer amidst a global pandemic. South Australia’s Isabel Palmer did just that after being a volunteer at the Australian Student Leadership Conference in 2021! Not only did Isabel impart her positive energy and superb knowledge within schools, but she also was able to build on her own skills by working with the students!
“Working with students allowed me to examine ways I can function better in a team environment, particularly understanding the importance of appropriately employing personal strengths to problem solve.”
“Being face-to-face with these students established an intimate and engaging environment, differing from conference yet still highly valuable as within 6-hours, students became friends as vulnerability was encouraged in a judgment-free zone created by yLead. This positively impacted me by realising I must be true to myself more frequently, as I witnessed students flourishing in their natural surroundings.”
Caitlin Oschadleus | New South Wales
Term 1 – what an absolute whirlwind for Sydney-based yTeamer & Contractor, Caity Oschadleus!
“A massive highlight for me during Term 1 was stepping into a new role as a Contractor! It definitely terrified me, but I have learnt and grown so much. I’m so grateful for the opportunities it’s given me to back myself, push myself out of my comfort zone and learn from some pretty incredible people.”
“I was also lucky enough to travel interstate and meet some pretty awesome students in Perth and Melbourne. It was incredible to be in a different state, yet feel the same energy in the room and hear the voices, ideas and passions of the leaders of tomorrow. While the team adapted so well to running programs online, it is so good to be back face-to-face, the energy when you’re in the room is electric! From building that energy in the room as a group, to the smaller conversations with students as they head out to lunch, it all makes me grateful that we are able to be back in a face-to-face environment.”
George Conlon | Queensland
“What a term it has been! After an unpredictable 2020, a jam-packed Term 1 is what was needed and we got that without a doubt. Being face-to-face again allowed us to recreate the positive and exciting yLead space, no matter where we went around Australia. One trip in particular that was an eye-opener for me was the trip up to North West Queensland to work with Hughenden State School. Their students were so amazing and for me, it highlighted how important and special our programs are. Both the attendance and energy brought into our Hughenden space was extraordinary and the students gained so much value and insight from their efforts.”
“No matter which school we did a program for in Term 1, any teacher, facilitator or yTeamer would have felt privileged to be impacting today’s youth in a face-to-face format. Those connections and relationships that form through yLead programs are real. Giving your partner a high five, creating a handshake or simply chatting was something we may not have imagined doing after the challenges faced last year. Term 1 has certainly been a big wave, but everyone has rode it with style and composure.”
Kayla Preller | Victoria
Last year was tough for our friends down in Victoria. Yet, in true Victorian spirit, they all pushed through and it meant that we could be face-to-face once again in 2021! One of our amazing Victorian volunteers, Kayla Preller, shared her time with us this term.
“In 2021 I gained a newfound appreciation for moments of connection. We have never needed leaders, listeners and hope as much as we do now and that is why yLead’s work is so special.”
“Recently I visited the Year 6 cohort at Stella Maris Primary School. The energy and radiance they shared with Amy and I was so special. They were amazing team players, critical thinkers and were so engaged that at times I forgot how young they were. Throughout the day at least half of the year level approached me and told me how much fun they were having and how much they were learning. I am so pleased that they are able to spend their final year of Primary School actually at school and I have so much faith that their future as leaders will be bright.”
“These leaders are remarkable for putting themselves forward, knowing that this year is so uncertain. It was so special to be able to share a space with them.”
”In 2021 I gained a newfound appreciation for moments of connection. We have never needed leaders, listeners and hope as much as we do now and that is why yLead’s work is so special."
Luke Jobson | New South Wales
“Much like our great southern soil, Australia is blessed with diverse communities strewn all across the country. Having been in schools across Sydney and the Central Coast, I’ve been awe-inspired by how different communities have been coming together to expand their skills for the greater community need. At the start of March, Hills Grammar had their Year 11 camp in the Blue Mountains. What came from that was a grade who bonded together and developed a greater skill set to further themselves, both as individuals and as a year group.”
“The Year 6 day at Yagoona Public School also reminded me about the need to encourage and include everyone. It filled me with so much confidence to see 60 young leaders getting around each other to achieve a common goal. It’s something that is taken for granted, yet is so inspiring when we see it in front of us.”
Now, more than ever, in person experiences are needed and cherished. They are not something that we take for granted any longer. We are blessed to have that opportunity to leave an impact on the community at large as volunteers.
Term 1 was an incredible experience for those who were able to contribute. We can’t wait to be back in schools for the rest of the year!
With thanks to Izzy Gardener, Kayla Preller, Caitlin Oschadleus, George Conlon and Isabel Palmer.
Written by Luke Jobson.