A decade of difference: Cowra Youth Council celebrates 10 years | Cowra Guardian

It’s been a decade of colorful races and movie nights.

A decade of learning new skills and building new relationships.

But more importantly, the young people of the local community have been the voice for ten years and, even after 10 years, there is no sign of slowing down for the Cowra Youth Council.

Linda Barron, Cowra Council’s community projects manager, who, along with councilors Judi Smith and Peter Wright, helped establish the group in 2011, said the idea of ​​a youth council stems from the involvement of local youth in Youth Week plans.

“I thought it would be a good opportunity to move from youth participation in organizing Youth Week activities to year round participation,” she said.

“To have many more opportunities to learn about the council and what the council is doing and to contribute to what the council is doing and in particular to help in the youth field and to seek out activities and entertainment for young people. “

Along with the activities and events, Ms Barron said members also have the opportunity to advocate for the youth of Cowra.

In recent years alone, the Youth Council has raised awareness of issues such as bullying, mental health and the need for better access to employment and education opportunities.

“What we tend to do at the start of each year is have a planning workshop and we use that time as a bit of team building and reviewing the activities we have been involved in and doing. try to determine if there are any issues or activities they want to do in the coming year, ”Ms. Barron said.

“The most important thing last year was the Study Hub, we went through a process where we do a lot of research and looked at what the needs of our community were.

“We met other people, we held it as a workshop, we presented to the board and out of that came the university center and what we were trying to achieve with that is a country university center.

“The other big thing for them is still sanity and I think with what continues with the lockdown that will continue to be a really big deal.”

Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic has hampered the Youth Council‘s efforts this year, with members expected to make plans to tackle vaping, as well as set up a new basketball competition, on the backburner.

“I’m going to walk them through a process where they have to look at what the problem really is and do their research and come up with a project plan with goals with what they want to achieve in terms of, is that an emphasis on raising awareness ? Do they really want to try and take the next step in behavior change? Mrs. Barron said.

“I like to follow the interests and strengths of the Youth Council children.”

Through their efforts, the Youth Council was also able to establish links with other local community groups.

“I think it will be very helpful to us going forward. We try to make sure that we work with other community groups and try to get the most out of the projects that we do in this way and the advice is important in that. regard was fine, ”Ms. Barron said.

“They make official reports to the council and we have always had very good support from the council, the mayor and the deputy mayor.”

While the Youth Council gives a lot back to the Cowra community, members also take a lot from the group, whether it’s developing new relationships or just making new friends.

“The kinds of things kids tell me, they make friends,” Ms. Barron said.

“They make friends with children they would not normally have met in other spheres of their lives, because we bring together children from different schools and different ages.

“It’s always been a big part of it and I think the kids who benefit the most are the ones who find that social side as well.”

This sentiment is shared by Cowra Youth Council members Dan Barlow and Ethan Austin.

“I have really good friends. It’s always a really good laugh, every time we meet, it’s just a real pleasure, it’s always nice,” he said.

“This little group … we’re all the same, we always do the right thing, we always try to help in any way we can, we honestly do our best.”

“Making new friends, deciding what events would be organized for the young people of Cowra… I wanted to be a part of it,” Ethan said.

“Just being able to have your voice and your say in what’s going on around Cowra.”

For others, said Ms Barron, the Youth Council also gives them the opportunity to develop new skills.

“Some of them took on leadership roles in the Youth Council … some of them in particular learned to speak in public and to speak to the media and to stand up in front of a crowd of people and to talk, ”she said.

“I’ve seen some of them take giant strides in this kind of area.”

One of those members is Alex Shaw, who says the Youth Council has helped him find his voice.

“When I was in sixth grade, I was scared to go on stage,” he said.

“Then this year, after three years on the Youth Council, I tried to take the time this year and take the stage and now I agree to stand up and speak in front of people.”

Cohan Howden, one of the youngest members of the group, said the skills he learned at the Youth Council will help him in the future.

“The experiences you get can prepare you for life and for better jobs and more skills in areas that you may not have had before,” he said.

Looking back on the group’s decade of work, Ms Barron said the Youth Council has provided a unique opportunity for young people in Cowra.

“I forget that when the youth of the Youth Council have the opportunity to work with Bill [West, Cowra Mayor] and Judi and Peter … I forget it’s pretty special, “she said.

“Not all kids get the chance to do this kind of thing.

“I think they like it and appreciate it too.”