Posted in At-Risk
There are many young people who are put in the ‘too hard’ basket. We say things like, “they’re a lost cause; don’t waste your time”.
Those around lose hope in them, so they lose hope in themselves.
Zac was one of those young people, and through circumstances he couldn’t control, he ended up in a place of hopelessness.
“My mum is really sick,” Zac shares, “she’s got a form of diabetes where she always has seizures. She discovered she had diabetes when she was pregnant with me, and ever since then, it’s just gotten worse.
“As my mum got sicker, my dad had to stop working, and everything just sort of fell apart for my family. My dad is now my mum’s fulltime carer and he cannot leave the house. So the last couple of years, we’ve been staying with my grandma.”
“At school, I was always known as that person who was shy and quiet, and who wouldn’t talk. But after Connect, I just started finding my voice.”
As he reached high school, Zac became depressed and angry. “I used to argue with my parents a lot with all the stress and frustration at home. Because my home life was bad, I just always wanted to go to school. It was my escape,” Zac says.
“But I didn’t really have any friends. I knew people from primary school, but when we got to high school, everyone slowly left and made new friends. I was left by myself. I went to the guidance officer to chat about stuff at home, but I started getting bullied for going, so I stopped showing up.”
But then in Year 9, things changed for Zac.
“I found out about the Connect program at school, and I really wanted to do it,” he says.
Connect is a 12-month adventure program that teaches key life skills. In groups of 10 to 12, students complete weekly activities, and go on camps each term to push their limits.
“Connect is all about team work and doing everything together,” Zac shares. “And that’s what our group did. We just came together and became friends.
“At school, I was always known as that person who was shy and quiet, and who wouldn’t talk. But after Connect, I just started finding my voice. I ended up graduating Year 12 being one of those people who knew everyone, and everyone knew me.”
Zac also became a lot more confident.
“I used to be overweight during high school – I always wanted to get fit, but I didn’t have anything to push me to do it. But I began to realise that I can succeed at anything. I started eating healthily, exercising a bit and dancing, and I just began to lose all the weight.”
Zac isn’t content keeping hope to himself – he wants to help other teens who have been ‘put into a box’, just like he was. He’s been a Connect assistant leader over the last two years, and is now studying his Diploma of Youth Work.
“I’ve been on the other side… I know what it’s like to have all these things in life thrown at you. I know what it feels like when people look at you and say, ‘he’s like that, so we’ll just put him over there’.
“It’s an amazing feeling when others start looking at you in a different light, and when they realise you’re actually a pretty good kid who isn’t that bad. And now, I get to see other kids experience that too.”
Back in Grade 9, Zac’s life changed course. It was like the barriers placed around his world by others were suddenly removed, and all that was left were countless opportunities.
Thank you for giving Zac that opportunity. Through your support, you are showing young people that someone believes in them and wants to give them a second chance.