YOUTH ENGAGEMENT: Some of the individual shields made by the students.
YOUTH ENGAGEMENT: Some of the individual shields made by the students. TEEYA Blatt

Engagement is transforming young lives

LISMORE TAFE has helped students discontented with school develop self-esteem and self-recognition through the Youth Engagement Program.

Co-ordinator Martin Mills said one problem "is that the students really can't leave".

"We hoped we might help re-engage them back into school or on a pathway into learning," Mr Mills said.

"It couldn't be conducted as a traditional classroom with a teacher standing out the front, but had to be more experiential.

"Some had difficult backgrounds, lacked confidence in their own ability to learn and/or had low self-esteem. Their needs weren't being met. Some boys didn't have male role models.

"The two groups, boys and girls, all shared physical and emotional issues privately with two female teachers.

"In the end, the girls transformed from unsure into more positive young women who later experienced a taster course in health and beauty at Wollongbar."

Teacher Teeya Blatt helped the boys reveal their fictitious, but very moral, heroes such as Superman. They drew, and wrote about their heroes before teacher Paul Floyd helped them build their heroes' shields of honour.

Dylan Irwin, 15, said the program "took me out of my comfort zone, but I'm more confident now. It's great".

"I wrote my own hero story of me, and on my shield, I put four characteristics that are important to me if I am to move forward in my life," Dylan said. "They included honesty, forgiveness and being more active. Having them on the shield reminds me of what I can achieve."



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