During this unprecedented time, my heart goes out to our community and supporters who are severely impacted by the pandemic and subsequent restrictions. If you are struggling with your mental health and wellbeing, I do encourage you to reach out to your support networks, and visit Beyond Blue who have a long list of national helplines and websites to help you through this tough time.
When I wrote to you earlier this year in our first newsletter of 2020, I spoke about the devastating bushfires and its impact on young people’s mental health. Now, in our second newsletter, I am yet again responding to another crisis that has significantly impacted our organisation and our community.
COVID-19 has seriously affected our organisation, delaying crucial fundraising events, and more importantly, affecting how we serve the young people who desperately need our support. Without a doubt, the rest of the year will be a challenging one, but rest assured that we are seeing the silver lining, and coming up with innovative ways to continue delivering our programs to young people in an online capacity.
As you may know, our programs at Youth Opportunities are centred around our ‘Four Big Decisions’, and our intention with each newsletter is to focus on one of them. Our theme for this newsletter is centred around the second Big Decision, which is “decide to be happy”.
Although this may seem like a strange time to choose happiness, deciding to be happy is so much more than simply ignoring unpleasant or unsettling situations in life. It means going out of your way to see the positives, while acknowledging the negatives. It is about understanding that sometimes, the bad things may be out of your control, and that is okay. COVID-19 is a stressful time for everyone, and the uncertainty of when things will get back to normal can take its toll on your wellbeing. Deciding to be happy amidst such a stressful time can be a great decision to make. For now, deciding to be happy could be that you make the most of the time you are spending at home with family. Make the most of limited distractions and focus on you and your wellbeing. It is as much about our perspective and our attitude as it is about the emotion itself. Choosing happiness is above all about remaining realistic – what can you choose to be happy about? What is in your control right now?
We are deciding to be happy here at Youth Opportunities, and are continuing to make the most out of a pandemic that has had such an impact on our daily activities. We are continuing to sur-thrive, and are extremely grateful we had the foresight to develop an online learning program, Thrive Online, so that we are well equipped to handle times like these.
Deciding to be happy means seeking out things in life that bring you joy.
Something that brought me great joy recently was one of our trainers sharing a message he received from a student who had just completed her Personal Leadership Program. At the beginning of the program, she was extremely shy and had trouble talking in a group of people. At the end of the program, she sent this:
“Thank you for this experience, I really appreciate the support you guys gave to me and the whole group. I’ll carry what I’ve learnt at Youth Opportunities for the rest of my life. I learnt so much, and discovered so many things I didn’t even know about myself and others and I’ve never felt so much support. Thank you for being so awesome, and I hope you keep teaching these programs forever because it would definitely help a lot of people!”
That definitely made me happy, and in spite of all the uncertainty we as an Organisation are facing right now, we can all choose to seek out the positives in life.
The strength of our school partnerships has also made our team happy this term, with so many of our wonderful schools being open to adapting a blended model of our Personal Leadership Program, so that we can deliver our programs online as well as in person when safe to do so. As an example, you can read more about the first full day of online training that we delivered to GFG apprentices over Zoom here.
And of course, being able to share our Annual Impact report and updated website with all of you a couple of weeks ago made me exceptionally happy, it is only because of your support that the results young people achieved in 2019 through our programs were made possible, and it felt great to know we had been able to demonstrate this to you.
Thank you again, for your support and kindness during this difficult time. I would love to know how you are travelling, and what you are doing to try and remain positive. Feel free to reach out to me and let me know your tips and tricks around ‘deciding to be happy’, I would love to share them with our community so we can support one another during this time.
Erin Faehrmann, Chief Executive