Our youth stay positively engaged and connected through COVID-19

The future leaders of lifesaving have stayed busy over the winter season with an LSVj (junior) Club Representatives Day and the 2020 Innovation Challenge ideas coming to life. There are also re-imagined Youth Involvement Programs (YIPs), a Safer Club workshop (including child safety, anti-bullying and youth empowerment workshops), as well as creating wellbeing champions in the near future, all from a youth perspective.

“We have very motivated and committed youth members in lifesaving and it’s really inspiring to see just what they are capable of,” said Emma Atkins, LSV’s GM – People. “It’s easy to make assumptions about what these youth members want from our organisation, but during this time we have had a really unique opportunity, with the establishment of LSVj and some of the initiatives launched during COVID-19, to be more connected. We are sure this will have a real impact on how we can connect and support these members in the future.”

LSVj is a Youth Advisory Committee, established after a group of youth lifesaving leaders pitched this innovation at the inaugural Youth Innovation Challenge in 2019. They have spent the last 12 months forming terms of reference, establishing an advisory committee with club representatives from across the state (and soon, area representatives as well), recruiting additional members and setting up tiers of youth leadership, including an advisory committee.

This structure somewhat mirrors the LSV governance structure and aims to provide youth with a voice and pathway to leadership.

“The way it works is that club representatives identify challenges, concerns and opportunities for youth members and feed that up through area representatives to take to the advisory committee,” said Ms Atkins. “We’re proud of the way LSVj has grasped leadership concepts and created a sustainable structure to facilitate their influence in lifesaving.”

Some of the clubs already had their own Youth Committees in place and we have seen additional clubs either implement or look to doing the same in the near future.

“The youth voice is so important and it’s great to see clubs embracing and leading the way in this space,” said Ms Atkins.


LSVj also hosted its first event, an online session with an element of innovation thanks to the Cheer Me app, which encourages youth members to stay connected, stay healthy and get moving by providing challenges online.

 

The two winning Cheer Me challenges were a letter writing connection piece where members wrote to another member at the club, and a virtual Iron event challenge. The three-hour event was well received by LSVj and the 35 club representative members who attended.

“It’s a pretty big achievement for LSVj to become a junior committee, engage other youth members and deliver an event,” said Ms Atkins. “That’s all while juggling the multitude of challenges 2020 has thrown at them.”

The 2020 Youth Innovation Challenge finalists have also been busy over winter ironing out their ideas ready for rollout – whether this season or for later seasons due to restrictions (for example one runners-up had a Club Exchange program idea, which isn’t possible right now).

“The innovations of all teams who participated really were all outstanding, with all 3 finalists looking to have their ideas implemented over the next year,” Ms Atkins said.

Our YIPs program is also currently being refreshed with LSV and the YIPs working group engaging with LSVj to ensure the youth voice is loudly represented in the new program.

“It’s about developing and supporting competent, resilient leaders with great communication skills,” said Ms Atkins. “Giving our youth members the opportunity to take on a bit more responsibility will help greatly with their future endeavors in lifesaving and beyond.”

Youth camps are also back in planning phase and looking likely to go ahead, with the Champion Junior Lifesaver postponed a couple of months with an April date currently penciled in.

There is also a Welfare Warriors initiative for peer-to-peer mental wellbeing support and the creation of wellbeing champions. This has a focus on equipping youth members not only during these uncertain times, but also in their lifesaving futures as member wellbeing is a huge part of leadership in lifesaving.

A feedback forum on child safety and anti-bullying, from a youth perspective, is also being developed as part of a Youth Empowerment and Welfare Day on December 5.

“There has definitely been a level of uncertainty for our youth members, unsure what role they will play and the activities they will be able to undertake this season,” said Ms Atkins. “Whilst we’re aware there are lots of challenges and this season is looking like one like no other, we’re really encouraged by the remarkable young leaders within our organisation, and their resilience and ability to adapt. We want them to know they are a hugely valued part of lifesaving.”

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