Beyond Blue’s website states that “1 in 7 young Australians experience a mental health condition.”
With 4 neighbourhood centres in the Penrith LGA, we see many young people walk through our doors each week. We know that It is essential for young people to have a good support system in place to help them through hard times, or when they are suffering poor mental health.
For some young people, making friends comes naturally and often those with a great circle of friends, look forward to school holidays as they are a break from structure, teachers, tests, early starts and a chance to catch up with their friends in a relaxed environment.
However, for other young people, making friends can be more difficult. They may be shy, anxious or struggling with low self-esteem and for these student’s, school holidays can amplify feelings of loneliness. They may withdraw into themselves and after the holidays, when they come back to school it can become even more difficult to make new friends.
Our school holiday program gives young people the opportunity to make new friends, catch up with old friends and gain new experiences with the supervision and guidance from our youth workers.
NCNS youth workers, Sami & Joe love working with young people to support them in developing healthy relationships, social skills and reducing social isolation, in a safe and respectful environment. Young people are given the opportunity to speak honestly and openly, seek advice or voice any concerns that they may have. During the School Holiday program young people get to experience a variety of social environments where they are able to get a better understanding of appropriate behaviour in different settings.
We have many young people come into our program and meet other students from their school whom they haven’t met previously due to being in different classes or social groups and then making long lasting connections. Participating in activities is a great way to break the ice and create new friendships.
Our January school holiday program was a mix of active and more relaxed days, so there was something for everyone.
During January’s program, we took our teens to Tree Tops where they got to weave and fly through the tree tops on a self-guided rope course. Even though this activity tested our group mentally and physically, we were so proud of how they supported each other to push through their fears and to conquer them. We also think this is great activity to help young people to develop an understanding of healthy risk taking.
NCNS Youth Worker, Joe stated “A highlight for me during this school holiday program was when I won one of the laser tag games at Code Red! Haha! No, but really the highlight for me was when the group was rewarded with two extra games of laser tag due to their exemplary behaviour. Everyone listened well, followed our directions and showed respect for themselves, others and us as workers. We are so proud of them, and it was wonderful for them to be acknowledged for the way they had conducted themselves. It is a credit to themselves and the whole group.
At Wet’n’Wild, we were so impressed by the student’s willingness to stick together making sure no one felt isolated.
I also wanted to say thank you so much to Shelly (Ty & Courtney’s mum) who made delicious homemade pizzas for all the students in the program on our Movie night.”
NCNS runs its Free School Holiday Program each school holidays for high school students from Cranebrook and Kingwood Park. Not only is the School Holiday program fun and exciting for our students but it is also a great way for students to expand their social circle, creating a stronger support system, that they can rely on when they might be going through a tough time or suffering from a mental health condition.
Our next School Holiday program will be in the April School holidays. Watch out for our exciting program on our Facebook page[ link] or on our website [link].
To speak with our youth team, contact Joe 0417 498 918 or Sami 0408 586 797.
Check out the NCNS Youth Facebook Page
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