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Byron Shire
April 23, 2021

Opening the doors to adulthood

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Early morning starts are not a usual routine for chefs at the Ballina RSL Club. March was an exception when Chef Halie Welsh rallied some staff and friends together to take part in Ian Thorpe’s Laps For Life charity. A team of ten hit the Ballina Pool at 7am every day during March to raise funds For ReachOut’s Laps For Life challenge. 

From left: Lindy Lou Smith, BYS manager Teeya Blatt and Dale Shaddick.
From left: Lindy Lou Smith, BYS manager Teeya Blatt and Dale Shaddick. Photo: Eve Jeffery

Photo & story Eve Jeffery

How many enter adult life wondering why they learned few life skills in school?

Without the relevant guidance, it’s hard to do small but important things, from registering your car to voting or budgeting an income.

Then there are bigger issues such as how to apply for a job, finding a home or how to deal with pregnancy.

Byron Youth Service (BYS) devised a survey aimed at year nine and ten students to find out what they needed to navigate a path into adulthood.

With those responses, BYS were awarded a Links to Learning grant by the Department of Education for the program Skills4Life, which will begin later this month at the YAC (Youth Activity Centre).

Life skills

Skills4Life will provide 30 boys and 30 girls from local high schools, with 31 weeks, life-skills workshops, including financial literacy, resume writing, restorative agriculture, drama, budgeting and public speaking. 

Byron Youth Service manager Teeya Blatt says the survey responses were astounding. ‘In addition to rating listed workshops, young people were asked to write down what they want to learn,’ she said. ‘Their answers clearly revealed a theme: young people want to learn life skills such as how to vote, how to rent a flat, how to make money.’

As schools are bound by national curriculum criteria, Teeya says research shows that some students are at risk of disengagement for various reasons.

‘The Skills4Life program is built around what these young people want to learn, and that’s a large part of what won us the grant.’

Other interests were in having ‘real’ discussions about sex and drugs, how to write computer languages, and how to prepare meals.

‘At ages 14 and 15, young people are facing the transition to adulthood and they want skills for living an adult life,’ said Ms Blatt.

‘The Skills4Life team includes qualified BYS youth workers: Lindy Lou Smith as co-ordinator, Dale Shaddick and Karim Kaufman as facilitators.

They are very excited about this program, which will indeed help to prepare young people for adult life with skills that will also transfer to further study.’

Community agencies and individuals will be invited to speak for most of the workshops, including representatives of Community Sexual Health and a Youth Liaison Police Officer for tips on safe partying and safe hitching.

Teeya says that a vital part of the program is building community bonds.

‘Having community members interact with young people about relevant issues will go a long way to reducing feelings of intimidation about authority figures and feeling connected and competent in our Shire.’

For more information about any of the BYS programs or the YAC activities, or to make a donation, visit www.bys.org.au.

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