Blog Post from Head of Training Larry Waller

Wednesday the 18th of November.

Pivot, pivot, pivot!

If I was a submarine commander and we saw a big enemy warship coming our way we would shout “Dive, dive, dive”, the submarine would sink below the waves, out of sight of the oncoming threat. At Youth Opportunities, instead of sinking below the waves and running from the threat, we have taken the learnings from our previous experience in March 2020 and given the call, “Pivot, pivot pivot.”

With 6 out of 8 weeks of our Personal Leadership Program delivered, we find ourselves unable to go into schools, unable to have students come out of schools, and now in a total lockdown with all of us in our homes.

While we are not an essential service, we do feel it’s essential that our students get the best from us. It may be hard, but if you don’t do the hard things, the rewards may not be so rich!

From tomorrow, all schools will be nearly empty, apart from the amazing Skelton staff still there supporting the children/young people of essential workers. How do we ensure that the students pass their SACE and graduate the program in a meaningful way?

We take the program online, and students work from home with us by accessing our online platform content, and we support them so they can get across the line. We don’t just accept that we can’t help, that is not the Youth Opps way; we pivot, we choose growth and get organised.

Our first task is to ensure that we have permission from school so that we can go ahead and deliver the remainder of the program online. The second task, if permission is given, is to get consent from parents and caregivers that we can engage with the children they care for, in the program online.

Once we have permission and consent, a whole lot of things need to be sorted out, such as emailing details, access to meetings and deciding on the format of the program content, setting up ZOOM meetings, choosing which online resources to use, and how it will be delivered – the who, what, when and how and then more of the what.

Friday 20 November

The last 72 hours have seen us pivot from in the room, to on the ZOOM!

We will be providing 180 students with access to their program online, and they will have the opportunity to pass their SACE and graduate from Youth Opportunities in 2020, despite the difficulties placed in front of us.

Through springing into action, contacting schools before they closed, making online materials, preparing for virtual graduation ceremonies, contacting parents and students to explain our plans, and stepping into some unknowns, we have started to make that online program happen.

I have decided I don’t want to be a submarine commander – it’s great being the Head of Training at Youth Opps and working with an amazing team of people in an organisation that always aspires to deliver the best that we can,in service of young people.

Monday the 23rd of November

Round and round we go…. STOP! All change.

So, after that 72 hours, suddenly the brakes are applied, and we flip back to pre-mini lockdown conditions, with restrictions as per the SA Government regulations.

Masks, social distancing and another updated COVID-19 plan to work to.

A new sense of pivoting; the program will be delivered, but we were not sure if that’s in the room or over ZOOM. Do we need to communicate with school, students and parents or caregivers? What will the regulations mean today in schools? Will students be allowed out of school, or will we be able to go into schools? So many variables we can’t control.

Very slowly, making sure that we have managed the next day’s delivery, we move forward. Making decision and organising ourselves in this very quickly changing environment. What is very clear is that we are getting better at change, getting swifter in responding to newness, and flexing in the breeze to make sure we do the best for young people to support their complex and often challenging situations.

As the sun goes down on this beautiful Monday, we are as ready as we will ever be for another pivot if necessary, almost thriving on change and still delivering programs online, in the room at school, and in the rooms of community venues. A truly mixed economy offering flexibility and balancing to make the program still run and the students and staff safe while ensuring young people can achieve their goals.

Thanks to our partners in the community, Youth Opportunities truly is a great organisation doing its best to make the lives of those it supports better.

Categories: Parents and Caregivers, Schools, Students, Supporters, Team, Training