Moree Secondary College student Elka Devney last month attended the ABC Heywire Winners National Youth Summit in Canberra. The year 11 student last year won the New England North West ABC Heywire competition, and, as a result, was one of 36 winners given the opportunity to attend the annual Heywire Summit in February this year. Below Elka shares her experience.
There is no amount of words that could ever possibly describe how amazing it is to sit in a room with 36 other inspirational young Australians who want to make a positive change on their rural communities.
From February 9 to 15 I had the opportunity to attend the ABC Heywire Winners National Youth Summit in Canberra. To say it was a week full of adventure, love and inspiration is an understatement.
As I first arrived in Canberra there was a massive rainbow that greeted the plane, and from this moment on I knew that the week ahead would be possibly be one of the most incredible experiences of my life.
Throughout the week I worked extensively with the other winners from across Australia in workshops discussing and sharing not only our personal stories but what we want to see change within our rural communities.
Dispersing into different focus areas, we worked in groups to develop projects that would be presented to Parliament.
The group that I was a part of identified that keeping and connecting young people within our rural communities is crucial to keeping our small towns alive.
The project we developed called 'Our Place' is a safe and physical space that would allow youth to meet and participate in social activities, giving them a place to go when home isn't an option.
Identifying that many rural communities didn't have these facilities available, the implementation of 'Our Place' aims to reduce youth crime whilst also connecting the younger community outside of phones and video games.
Whilst in Canberra some of the activities I also had to opportunity to participate in were; riding segways around Lake Burley Griffin, visiting his excellency Sir Peter Cosgrove and Lady Cosgrove in Government House, speed networking with parliamentary members, touring the ABC studio in Parliament House, meeting and talking with MP Mark Colton as well as attending a gala dinner at the National Museum of Australia.
Overall Heywire was an absolutely phenomenal opportunity that has certainly changed me.
To think that this whole experienced started with a pen and piece of paper is extraordinary.
I believe everyone has a story to tell so why not take a chance and share it, you never know where it could take you.