Leadership summit in Muswellbrook creates part of future plan - Where There's a Will

TALKING is generally considered an easy thing to do.

But speaking about yourself is not quite so easy, especially when you’re a teenager, and in front of an audience even harder.

At the leadership summit at Muswellbrook High School on Tuesday, students created a place where it was easy to talk, a place where more than 150 high-schoolers and a handful of local primary school captains were encouraged to build their self-confidence and leadership skills.

HIGH SCHOOL REPS: Year 11 leadership summit organisers and attendees of the 2018 Adelaide leadership summit: Ella Watson, Muswellbrook HS; Alana Smith, Merriwa Central; Clayton Edmonds, Scone HS; Will Price, Scone Grammar; Chelsea Borradaile, Merriwa Central; Tori McNaught, Merriwa Central; Kate Lloyd, St Joseph’s Aberdeen; and Alicia Clydsdale, Merriwa Central with Scone High School captain and guest speaker Jono McMahon.

HIGH SCHOOL REPS: Year 11 leadership summit organisers and attendees of the 2018 Adelaide leadership summit: Ella Watson, Muswellbrook HS; Alana Smith, Merriwa Central; Clayton Edmonds, Scone HS; Will Price, Scone Grammar; Chelsea Borradaile, Merriwa Central; Tori McNaught, Merriwa Central; Kate Lloyd, St Joseph’s Aberdeen; and Alicia Clydsdale, Merriwa Central with Scone High School captain and guest speaker Jono McMahon.

The group coordinating the event had previously attended a leadership summit in Adelaide in March, thanks to the Where There’s a Will (WTAW) foundation and included representatives from all five Upper Hunter high schools.

“Coming to this shows there are always people to support you,” Ella Watson said.

“Support from others builds your confidence.”

“Leadership is also about who you are and how you interact with people,” Clayton Edmonds added.

Scone High School captain Jono McMahon attended last year’s Adelaide leadership summit and helped run the inaugural Upper Hunter summit later in 2017.

His address was about his idea of leadership, something he says was sparked by WTAW and cemented by personal experiences.

“You don’t have to wear a badge to be a leader,” Jono said.

“A leader isn’t always the greatest person but they’re the ones helping other people become greater.

“It’s good to feel like you’re making a difference, everyone who does this program will make a difference.

“It’s opened a lot of doors and experiences for me and definitely increased my self-confidence.”

St Joseph’s Aberdeen student Kate Lloyd gave a brilliant presentation about her personal life, the loneliness she felt in Year 7, her focus on pleasing other people and being too scared to be herself.

“I stopped caring what people thought, I found acceptance and a safe space being myself,” she told the crowd.

“I now think of myself as a leader who likes to spread kindness and positivity,” she added.

WTAW summit coordinator Lindy Hunt said it was a great thing that all schools, public, private and denominational were working together for the same thing.

“The students are then using that connectedness to do good,” Ms Hunt said.

WTAW founder Pauline Carrigan said WTAW was making a plan for the future and events like the leadership summit were part of it.

“The most recent Mission Australia Youth Survey has shown young people’s biggest concern for the future is mental health,” Mrs Carrigan said.

“There’s no plan in Australia for mental health.

“WTAW is doing what we can to help make the future less scary, if we can help place a buffer zone around our youth, prevent that concern within themselves, and have them use these skills to talk… my Will couldn’t talk...”