C4YB members and school leaders at their first meeting for the year at Monivae College
Western District Health Service (WDHS) is working to ‘create a healthier youth community’ thanks to a $100,000 grant from the Victorian Government’s Engage! program.
Delivered over three years, the funding will support WDHS to engage young people and support them to reach their full potential.
WDHS Director of Primary and Preventative Health, Mac McInnes says the funds will allow WDHS to work in partnership with youth to improve health outcomes, educational attainment and social connectedness.
“There are many young people who feel isolated in our community and it’s so important that we find ways to help them build the skills they need to overcome difficulties and lead healthy, happy lives.
From an education perspective, research tells us that young people in the Southern Grampians are less likely to complete VCE and go to uni and that’s something as a community we need to address, because lower educational outcomes are linked to poorer health, stress and lower self-confidence,” Mr McInnes said.
The Engage! funding, will boost WDHS’s current youth engagement and development activities, including the Handbury Foundation sponsored School Holiday Program and FReeZA events.
The Community 4 Youth Board (C4YB), established last year, will also act in a governance capacity to guide the new project.
WDHS Chief Executive and C4YB member, Rohan Fitzgerald says the C4YB hit the ground running at their first meeting for the year last week, establishing key priorities and focus areas.
“This year we have changed the location and time of the meetings to make it easier for school leaders to attend for feedback and suggestions. We had a great response from the schools and a very dynamic first meeting, with high levels of participation, energy and some excellent ideas.
One of the outcomes was that we will set up a working group to look at how we can better engage some harder to reach young people. Our young leaders recognise that there are many sports-based projects for youth, but there are many kids whose interests lie elsewhere.
A safe ‘IT’ space for youth to link up and enjoy is a suggestion we’ll be looking at and potentially a gaming tournament for those with a passion for IT. We’ll also be considering how we can support the arts and re-visiting and possibly extending the Youth Café concept so that the space can be used for jam sessions and other activities,” Mr Fitzgerald said.