Youth update

Hannah Opeskin

Hannah Opeskin is Health Promotion Officer, Haemophilia Foundation Australia

Youth Lead Connect

Youth Lead Connect (YLC) is a new Haemophilia Foundation Australia youth leadership and mentoring program designed to build education and life skills for young people with bleeding disorders.

The program has been developed by HFA and is supported by an unrestricted educational grant from CSL Behring. YLC aims to benefit both individuals and the bleeding disorders community through the development of real-world leadership and mentoring skills including relationship and personal development. The program promotes engagement in the community through the development of personal hurdles which must be completed before graduating from the program.

Entry to the program follows a similar process to a job application: interested youth were required to submit an application form to HFA explaining why they wanted to be involved in the program and how they would use the skills learned from the training in their local community. The application also required a reference from their Foundation or Haemophilia Centre. HFA then contacted their referee to determine whether they would be a good fit for the program, had motivation to be involved at a community and national level, and whether they had the support of their Foundation or local Treatment Centre to complete their hurdles. When they were accepted for the program, the participants received a formal acceptance letter from the HFA Executive Director.

The YLC program began in February 2016 with a training weekend in Melbourne. Facilitators included the education team from HFA and Dr Moana Harlen, the Senior Haemophilia Psychologist from the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in Brisbane, along with expert youth trainers, The Frank Team and Reach. Sessions covered authentic leadership, how to be an effective mentor, boundaries and effective communication.

The weekend took the participants on an extraordinary journey – and it was equally amazing for the facilitators! Questions like which leaders inspire you and how do you want to be a leader made everyone involved in the weekend look more closely at ourselves and what drives us. The session with Reach left everyone thinking about who inspires us every day, whether it be someone we know and see every day or someone we wish to meet someday. It asked participants what motivates them to be part of the program – and their answers were a truly impressive insight into what inspires these youth leaders to be part of the community and help support other young people.

Youth Lead Connect participants

The more personal side to their leadership was explored in the hip-hop song-writing session with Australian rapper Mantra. It led the participants down a path of self-expression, revealing that everyone faced very different struggles daily. The song they wrote together was brilliant and showcased a very dedicated and enthusiastic group of young people committed to being an active part of the community.

As part of the program the youth are required to develop two hurdles to be completed over the next 12 months. A hurdle includes involvement at a local level in a leadership or mentoring capacity as well as writing articles for the Factored In website.

In 2016 the Youth Lead Connect program has 10 participants from across Australia. The training weekend revealed the participants were incredibly dedicated to helping other young people in the community through mentoring and leadership. I can’t wait to see the hurdles they come up with. We were really impressed with their ideas for leadership and mentoring.

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