Programs prove sky’s the limit

Published 8:09am 29 November 2021

Programs prove sky’s the limit
Words by Kylie Knight

Young people are on the way to reaching their potential thanks to programs at Redcliffe Area Youth Space, new-found confidence and hard work.

Two such programs are Checkpoint, which helps teens disengaged from mainstream education, and Work Skills, which helps those facing barriers to employment.

Checkpoint Program Co-ordinator and qualified teacher Victoria Van Schie says she works with about 15 young people aged 14-16 years to improve literacy and numeracy, boost confidence and deal with underlying issues which make it difficult for them to learn at a mainstream school.

“We’ll do some of the mental health or mentoring or support plans for those young people to try and re-engage them with education. They will stay with us for a period of time and then we transition them either back to mainstream education or to an alternative education,” Victoria says.

There is no defined timeframe and students can remain as long as they need to.

“Some of the young people that we’ve worked with historically come with some complex trauma and obviously haven’t had great experiences at school, so they may need to stay with us a little longer so then they are ready to either return to their base school or transition to other programs,” she says.

The program starts at three days a week from 9.30am to 2.30pm and builds to four days, when the students are ready.

“There’s a social component – we hang out and have fun – but the crux of what we do is around building really strong and healthy relationships with young people so then they feel safe to ask for and access support,” Victoria says.

Students improve basic literacy and numeracy, which is linked back to real life scenarios such a budgeting and managing money, writing resumes and cover letters, looking at newspaper articles and lyrics of songs.

The broader Redcliffe Area Youth Space team also assists by running workshops such as mental health and healthy relationships.

“We’ve had some huge outcomes. We have young person in our program now, who when she started was reading at Prep level and is now at Year 10 level in the space of nearly two and a half years. It’s very much self-driven, but it’s a supported space and they work at what they can do and it’s about filling the gaps in their learning,” she says.

Students Alexis Biggs and Georgie Smith say the program, which is not government funded, has had a profound impact on their lives as they prepare to ‘graduate’ at the end of this year.

“Checkpoint has changed my life and made me want to better and made me want to think better,” Alexis says.

For her being in the program for the past three years has meant staying out of trouble and making better choices.

“I want to work with young kids as a youth worker,” she says.

Georgie says the support she has received has made learning easier and also improved her state of mind.

“Just being here has helped a lot with my mental state most of all. The work is really easy. I get more help than I would at a mainstream school,” she says.

Programs prove sky’s the limit

Vital link to employment

Work Skills Program Co-ordinator Angela Wijangco says her program, funded by the State Government’s Skilling Queenslanders for Work initiative, helps young people aged 15-25 years develop the skills and confidence they need to land a job.

“A young person’s difficulty in securing employment could be anything from mental health or housing instability, or it could be as simple as they might be socially anxious and their interviews are terrible,” Angela says.

“We look at what skills and experiences they want, their knowledge in how to apply for work. We look at things like resumes, interview skills and while they’re here they gain training and experience in hospitality, retail and what goes into running those businesses and dealing with customers.

“We also look at a whole host of life skills like healthy and effective communication – personal and in the workplace, we look at mental health in the workplace and how to deal with complex personalities.”

Participants graduate with a Certificate I in Business.

“It’s about building them up, so they actually believe they’re capable of doing this,” she says.

To find out more about either program, phone Redcliffe Area Youth Space on 3283 8769.


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