Student leadership has been a key area of interest amongst the schools who comprise the Karmai Learning Alliance in South Gippsland. Centred on the rural town of Korumburra, the schools have been keen to develop a Learning Alliance Leadership program for all their upper primary students to assist them to develop their individual leadership skills as well as lift their aspirations to allow them see the boundless opportunities that exist for them into the future.
The Karmai Learning Alliance engaged the Rural Youth Ambassadors to facilitate the one day forum as part of their Rural Inspire initiative. Approximately 60 Year 6 students from across the Alliance were involved in the day. The Rural Youth Ambassadors provided a range of engaging and challenging activities that encouraged each student to reflect on the leadership skills they have and the aspirations they have in relation to their future.
One of the engaging activities of the day required the students to identify a number of high quality leaders from the sporting, business and community sectors – the students were then encouraged to explore what characteristics each leader had, and then to reflect on their own leadership characteristics – often realising that they had some of the characteristics that these world leaders had.
As one Rural Youth Ambassador reflected:
“Our aim is that they realise that many of the qualities they see in great leaders, are indeed qualities that they possess already.”
A highlight of the day, was when a couple of inspirational leaders from their own community shared their stories with the students. “Cobra”, as he is affectionately known locally was one of these.
After having a promising cricket career ahead of him as a young person, Cobra had a simple accident that resulted in him becoming a quadriplegic.
Unable to do much for himself, and with very limited movement in his body, many would’ve thought that the outlook for Cobra’s life was grim. In spite of this, he is incredibly positive. He is brave enough to admit there are challenges, and, sure, sometimes he wishes the accident hadn’t happened, but he holds a leadership role within the local football club, he goes to all the games, he lives independently, and he has great mates and a family who he credits with being able to make the best of a bad situation.
Many of the students involved shared their learnings from a local leader, and hero:
“Never give up”
“Even though things are bad, they could be worse”
“Just because everyone says you can’t, doesn’t mean you should stop trying”.
The final activity of the day was for the students to work in small groups to identify a project they would like to develop over the coming months, where they could utilise their leadership skills, and further develop them. They were encouraged to identify projects within their own schools, as well as a project for the Karmai Learning Alliance.
Each small group will be supported by their teachers to work on these projects over the coming months and to be encouraged to further develop their leadership skills.
At the conclusion of the day, one of the Rural Youth Ambassadors shared:
“We talk to some of the kids in the group, some have been selected as potential soccer stars and one girl is the 6th fastest swimmer in the state. It’s quite phenomenal the amount of talent that can be hidden in our rural communities. Usually this talent is most often recognised in the sporting arena, however, if you spend a few moments talking to other young people, you can see that the future is shining bright under the blue skies of South Gippsland.”
The Rural Inspire Student Leadership program is growing in reputation, with a number of rural and remote education communities wanting the Rural Youth Ambassadors to deliver the program within their community – if you are interested in accessing this great program, please contact the CEP Office.