Dear Valued Supporter,
My name is Tom, and I have worked in the training delivery team at Youth Opportunities for the past 17 years. While so much has changed within our organisation over this time, the one thing that hasn’t changed is that the young people we work with all still want the same thing – the opportunity to create a better future for themselves.
Every day I come to work and feel privileged to be part of a team that helps make that happen. I know that my work is possible because of the support of people like you. Your generosity means teens like Rafael are given the chance to change their lives.
While our programs are valuable for all young people, Raf, like a number of the students who sign up for our Personal Leadership Program, has come from a challenging background. His mother passed away two years ago, he had a strained relationship with his dad and had been expelled from three different schools for violent behaviour.
Raf had a quick temper when he joined our program and would easily lash out. He hated the way he was – caught in a cycle of self-loathing and despair, he knew he was on a downward spiral.
At the start of the first day of our program, Raf was hesitant, shared very little, and kept to himself. Then, in the afternoon, something changed. He instantly connected to our communication tools and had a very sudden realisation that how he acted was negatively affecting his life.
Over the next few weeks, he worked hard to change the relationships around him. He started getting along with his dad and brothers at home, he made friends at school and the positive feedback he was getting was earned and true. He reflected on how much this shift in thinking had made a massive impact on him and the people around him.
When I asked Raf what his plans were for the future he answered, “Nothing, why set myself up for disappointment”. However, with some coaching, he gradually shifted his thinking, and we started exploring a potential career path.
We talked about his dream jobs, which he was hesitant to share as he felt they were so out of his reach. But once we started to explore pathways that could fulfill his purpose, he identified construction as an industry he wanted to explore. On the way to school one day, he saw a roadworks crew with a bobcat driver whizzing around. That was it, his mind was set, he had found a job that he’d love to do and could see the real possibility of achieving it.
During his graduation, Raf shared his aspirations for the future, and the difference his change in communication had made – he felt like a new person.
The Principal at Raf’s school spoke about how the ripple effect that had been created by graduates like Raf was far-reaching. These students were now positively influencing their peers, their teachers felt more respected, and their families more connected. Seeing these changes after just 10 weeks created excited anticipation for what these young people would achieve in the future.
Although Raf’s story is unique, the story of positive change in young people’s lives remains the same across the thousands of participants who have shared their stories. This is what makes me so proud to work for Youth Opportunities.
But we are limited by the funding we must work with, and right now so many young people are struggling to navigate through these formative years, and we just cannot reach them all.
I hope sharing Raf’s journey shows you why I, and the whole team, are so passionate about the work we do, and why we have been working with Youth Opportunities for so long.
On behalf of all of us, I thank you for your past support and I hope once again you will make a donation to give more young people the opportunity to change their lives.