Students harness pilot program for social change

This week I found a silver lining to the unfortunate shadow that family violence casts on our modern society.

The light the stamps out the shadow is a concept called Project O, and it is broadcast through a handful of teenage girls at Wynyard High School.

The project is still young, but it equips grade 9 and 10 girls with the skills to help them break out of generational cycles of family violence and unemployment.

The participants are varied, but the one thing that unifies them is that they all elected to take part in the program.

Some would have experienced family violence first hand, others would only know about it through media or playground talk.

All of them want to change it.

The program differs to any other that aims to end this scourge of a cycle.

A facilitator tells me that it deliberately tackles an age group that has already been put in the “too hard” basket.

Through an arts-based curriculum, the students are given the tools they need to be their own future.

They’re taught about creating and chasing their own dreams, beyond those that are prescribed to them by what they’ve grown up with.

And with the assets they already have, and new ones they learn, like public speaking, event organisation, and leadership, they’re able to chase those dreams.

Over summer, some of them will take on their first paid jobs.

Some have been set on pathways that will take them to careers that they never thought possible.

Their positive energy is rippling throughout the school and wider community.

The negative connotations of youth are disappearing, replaced with admiration and pride for these up-and-coming change makers.

READ MORE: Inside Project O on pg 41.