• Jess - Changemaker 2019

Changemaker Impact Recount

​It only took me 5 minutes to realise that this ‘Be a changemaker’ program wasn’t a typical leadership workshop. As opposed to the usual awkwardness from standard ice breaking routines, the energy in the room was high, we were all laughing and hitting it off immediately. This is what I came to love about this program; it was a haven.

Every week I would walk into a room of smart, funny, passionate people who were just as eager to change the world as I was.

Often, we started with a game, something to

get our brains into gear. We learnt about inequality whilst playing true/ false; did you know that eight men own the equivalent of the poorest third of the global population?

Sometimes the games were trivial, sometimes not, but Avalon always gracefully led us into meaningful discussion with a purpose much deeper than goofy games.

My favourite activity was a story about a queen who died after a tragic series of events led to her murder at the hands of a madman. This story led into deep and lengthy debate on empathy versus logic and the concept of blame.

"How do we decide how blame is allocated? What is the best way to make a fair judgement? Is right and wrong purely circumstantial or are there moral absolutes?"

It was both refreshing and empowering to be within a group of peers who didn’t shy away from big questions and ideas.

Aside from these fascinating discussions, we also did activities that strengthened our leadership and changemaking skills. What better way to learn about communication than to play a game restricting our speech? There were definitely some very interesting drawings, especially when we had to convey the process of toast making to aliens! Our impromptu presentations and unusual charades often had us all in stitches, though we could clearly see the dos and don't's of presentation!

Under the guidance of our leader, Avalon, we learnt all about how to insti

gate institutional change, how to identify the heart of a problem and how we as individuals can make a difference. Instead of asking, what can we do? We began asking, where can we start? The message was clear; we start with ourselves!

One interesting theory we learnt about was called ‘the ripple effect’. Much like ripples, our sphere of influence can feel limited. However, ripples…ripple! What we do has a direct impact on others; we are a force of change!

All of us had a chance to step out these skills in our ‘Impact Project’; original projects we continue to develop to bring change to our community. Both my team and the other Wednesday group were intent on eliminating the myriad of issues stemming from HSC stress. As we are all senior students ourselves, we witness firsthand the damage of this pressure on our peers. To combat this, my team has stated a social media based campaign aiming to inform, inspire and empower year 12 students through videos. We interviewed experts in careers and learning and hope to get more info from mental health professionals and ex-students. The other group also used social media to spread information about how to create and sustain a healthy lifestyle, including exercise, nutrition and sleep!

Our hard work came to a pinnacle on the 10th April; Presentation Night! Though our projects are far from finished, this was our chance to publicly launch our ideas to the community. It was awesome!!!

Reflecting on this program has made me a little wistful. It has gone so fast and I will miss the weekly chance to hang out with friends and engage in something more. Thankfully, there will be plenty of alumni events as we will catch up often! This program has left a lasting legacy and it’s about so much more than us. It’s about cultivating passion that will spread into communities and change lives. Although I have always wanted to make change, I had previously thought it was something I would ‘do’; like a hobby. Now I know that making change is part of my identity; its who I am.

As my favourite quote states,

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, because it is the only thing that ever has”.

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