NYW blog #5: The Week that Was
I’m sitting here trying to figure out how I’m going to convey to you what NYW 2012 was. Insane? Crazy? Amazing? Check, check, check.
It was pretty much the most intense week (actually it's 10 days, but "National Youth Week and a Bit" isn't nearly as catchy) and I had so much fun.
After all the hard work leading up to NYW 2012, between the planning and the assessments, the late nights and early mornings, the emails and phones conferences, the travelling and logistics, it came together when it mattered most.
NYW Launches Nationally
NYW started on Friday the 13th. A bit ominous really, but there was never anything to be worried about. As young people across the nation started celebrating what it meant to be a young person, I packed my bag and flew to Sydney.
The national launch was staged at Circular Quay. I'll give Sydney props: they turned on the weather for the glorious event that was the NYW Launch. The idyllic backdrop of the harbour and the Opera House (and that creepy prison island) set the scene for the chaotic fun that was to ensue.
Following the always entertaining shenanigans of The Riff, we saw Justice Crew send the girls wild, proving they can make the fangirls make almost as much noise as One Direction (PS if you saw the rumour on Twitter that 1D were making an appearance, I was the one who made it up).
There was synchronised flipping (reminiscent of a boy band version of MBPK), bending of body parts that should just not be humanly possible, and of course the adorable attempt at singing backed up with raw talent in the rapping stakes.
After we farewelled the seven JC boys we welcomed the young talent that is Elen Levon. Belting out notes that were impressive for such a petite thing, she warmed up the stage for platinum-selling Israel Cruz. Of course his catchy songs got the crowd to their feet before he invited some of JC up to battle on stage. The jury is still out as to who won, but personally I think the Justice Crew lads were not taking the comp too seriously and so Cruz was all over them the whole way.
Next was the silent disco, and the young people who had turned out to support the kickoff of NYW partied to no outwardly audible noise (weirdest thing to watch, best thing to be a part of) in the Channel [V] dome. Outside, we still had people finding out more about NYW and how they could be involved, and getting info from sponsors including youthbeyondblue, Headspace, The Line, AYF, ATO, and the Electoral Commission.
After the launch, (the Victorian launch was in Prahran and went amazingly too!) the rest of the week whizzed by. Ew, did I just write whizzed? I don’t think I’ve ever said whizzed. Okay, so the rest of the week flew by, but here's some snapshots from the stuff I attended.
Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development
Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development held a forum about the importance of skilled young Australian volunteers working with their communities to contribute to sustainable development and the alleviation of poverty. Amazing speakers, lots of info, and good platform for discussing all things development.
I got to sit in the Speaker’s Gallery and be officially acknowledged as NYW Young Member for Victoria. I had a heap of government and opposition stare at me while Minister Ryan Smith said a couple of nice things and then mentioned that it was further proof that good things do come out of Frankston (cue chuckles from everyone and a joyous fist pump from Frankston’s MP Geoff Shaw).
Phoenix Youth Centre in Footscray launched Reach Out, a video featuring their own filming, soundtrack and editing, all about supporting and reaching out to your friends in relation to mental health. It was so impressive, and then there were performances from local artists who managed to censor themselves as they rapped (I found this equally impressive).
Maryborough Youth Expo
I travelled three hours very, very flipping early on Thursday morning to head back to Maryborough, where we had held a grant assessment workshop earlier in the year. I was invited to co-host the event, and probably never had so much fun in front of 300 people. I arrived (on time thankfully, curse you Monash Freeway) and met with the FReeZA committee who had worked with Penny from the Council to put together the event.
So Brody and I handled the crowd like seasoned pros, and I was lucky enough to introduce Kate DeAraugo (2005 Australian Idol Winner, Member of The Young Divas), who then invited Maryborough’s own Jade Mckenzie to sing with her. After a stellar performance I got to be like some kind of American talk show host and run into the crowd (upstairs as well) to let people ask Kate some questions. Then there was the Indigenous Hip Hop Project’s workshop (including a dance battle - if you’ve never seen hundreds of people in a dance battle - and the various dance movies out don’t count - then you have not lived!) before it all wrapped up with thunderous applause.
For a video of the night, including footage of recording of Kate and Jade performing live, check out MB'PK's Youtube (new window).
Mount Alexander Youth Awards
I was given the honour of presenting an award in Castlemaine, and I got to hear about and see some awesome things young people in that community are contributing and achieving. There were so many worthy nominees, and deserving winners. The night included a performance by local band Paper Arcade, as well a showing of some short films the local young people had produced.
Ah, Frankston. My home town. It was pouring with rain on the day a huge ‘come and try’ festival was held for health and wellbeing, and the opportunity for people to learn about alternative sports. I trudged across the wet grass that I had so often traipsed during my school years (yep, the event was held on the grounds behind my high school – oh, the memories). I got to speak on stage with the Mayor of Frankston, Brian Cunial, and I managed to stump him with my youthfulness. I referred to wanting to try archery because Green Arrow is one of my favourite members of the Justice League of America. He had no idea what I was talking about.
St Kilda Youth Festival
I secretly hoped 360 would rock up and perform with Gossling, but alas I knew I was kidding myself coz Twitter told me that he was in the UK. With a decent crowd on a delightful Saturday arvo, we were entertained with local acts in the O’Donnell Gardens til the sun started to fade.
And so I travelled to my last event as Young Member for Victoria. It was an opportunity for the Minister for Youth Affairs Ryan Smith to launch Engage, Involve, Create, the government’s new youth statement and to hear from some brilliant young minds.
Twitter was alight with the #6x6x6 hashtag as young people all over joined the conversations. From learning why thoughts are not ideas, to almost being convinced that physics is indeed badass and then being told that young people should just go sit in a corner because the old people were here first (read the sarcasm in that, as I worry it was lost on a couple of people at the time – me, I was in hysterics). It was a better end than I expected to a week (and a bit, but we’ve already covered that) that I will never forget.
The Parable of the Hummingbird
So, there it is. The cheat notes to my NYW. People all over the country got involved, and if for some reason you didn’t (why not??) there’s still a chance to be part of the National Talent Competition (new window) and Win Free Stuff (new window). Next year, maybe you could organise an event of your own. Or you could even apply for my job, coz Victoria will be looking for a new young person to represent us.
NYW is important because it’s about celebrating young people, and encouraging us to be active in our communities and in the world.
I’m about to go off on a bit of a tangent, but bear with me. It will make sense eventually (hopefully). In primary school I learnt what a fable was. It's a lesson about morals masquerading as a delightful story, like the tortoise racing the hare teaching us that slow and steady is the way to go.
I’ve got this little ditty about a hummingbird. It’s kinda long, but here’s the gist of it: a fire breaks out in a forest and all the animals freak out and just watch. They’re all losing it, feeling helpless and they see their home go up in flames. This little hummingbird guy starts grabbing some water in its tiny beak and chucking it on the fire. The bird cops hell from the animals, stuff like "Don’t bother, it's too much and you’re too little" or "It’s only a drop, you can’t put out the fire" and the like. When some other animal finally asks the bird why it’s bothering to try, the bird turns around and says (coz in this story animals can talk, okay?) "I’m just doing what I can."
I find hummingbirds weird coz they fly backwards, but I’m all about embracing diversity so I’ll go with it. But that’s why I got involved in NYW: to represent the voice of young people. To encourage young people to just do what they can to engage and participate in their communities. To make changes in this world that might ultimately make a difference. That’s all anyone can really ask for: for a person to stand up and do something - to just try.
Never turn your back on tomorrow. The best is always yet to come. It’s just waiting for you to make it happen.
Articles Written by Steph R
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