Empowered peers create change at Where There's A Will's 2019 Upper Hunter Student Leadership Summit in Aberdeen

THE work Where There's A Will (WTAW) is doing in the Upper Hunter is truly having a ripple effect through the whole community.

And, there's no greater example of that than the annual Upper Hunter Student Leadership Summit.

You can hear it in the student's voices - they're hungry and inspired to create change. They're empowered to step out of their comfort zones. They're learning. They're growing.

This year the summit, which builds student's self-confidence and leadership skills, took place at St Joseph's High School Aberdeen for the first time.

On Friday, 20 local pupils who travelled to Adelaide earlier this year for the National Student Leadership Summit thanks to WTAW, applied the skills they learnt at their own summit hosting more than 100 of their peers from the five Upper Hunter High Schools.

Students from Ravenswood School for Girls, located on Sydney's North Shore, also attended.

Forming initial relationships and connecting was the focus of the morning before heading into more activities focused on how communication and language can build your leadership skills.

The students were then encouraged to design their own wellbeing projects to propose to their schools, a key aspect in wellbeing in action and the ripple effect through the community, according to WTAW chairman Jane Callinan.

"This is WTAW's implementation - this is getting it on the ground," she said.

"We always emphasise that ripple effect - that this is how everybody is impacted and encouraged on their wellbeing journey.

"That the kids just get it. They embrace it. They understand it. It's second nature to them.

"Then, they go back and if they implement it themselves, they own it. And we just see that replication and replication which is what we're aiming for in the community."

And, the reviews from the youngsters couldn't be more positive.

They love what WTAW is bringing to their lives.

Scone High School Year 11 student Georgia Hinde is one of this year's summit organisers who attended the 2019 National Student Leadership Summit in Adelaide.

She said the whole experience had been "surreal".

"It's been incredible," she explained.

"They're (WTAW) absolutely amazing to work with and they're giving everybody so many opportunities to do anything that they want.

"They're providing the resources that anyone can use in the community."

Ms Hinde said she was hoping everyone would share a similar experience she has.

"I'm hoping that everyone is going to have a great day and I'm hoping that someone can learn something helpful and new that they can use in everyday life," she said.

Upper Hunter peer and fellow summit organiser, St Joseph's Aberdeen student Sarah Mcinnes, said the Adelaide summit taught her to step out of her comfort zone.

"I hope the people here today also gain that same experience," she added.

"Talking to someone that they might not necessarily talk to and then manage to stay in contact with them - because we did that same sort of thing at the summit.

"It's just a really good way to build connections and friendships that could last a lifetime."

Fellow St Jospeh's Aberdeen student Alexander Bates shared similar sentiments but said he hoped students would take it to the next level.

"I'm hoping that some of the people here today will already know how to step out of their comfort zone, so maybe they will be able to explore a new depth and make closer friendships with each other and people they don't know like those from Sydney schools," he said.

"I'm hoping that they take something away that's more than just friendships, but also leadership and the hope they can be a leader in the future."

"It's all funded by the community which makes this possible and we continually have much gratitude for them," the WTAW chairman concluded.