The YMCA is committed to connecting people to their communities to live healthier and happier lives. They believe in the value of delivering programs for young people by young people. This year’s overall 2014 National Chairman’s Citizenship Award winner, Tom Stephenson, has contributed significantly to two YMCA programs in the last year, the Queensland Youth Parliament (QYP) and National Indigenous Youth Parliament program (NIYP).
The QYP is a leadership and community engagement program that targets disengaged and at-risk young people, it aims to build confidence and educate about the electoral process. Tom mentored and led participants through the year long program that culminated in a week long residential program in Brisbane in October 2013.
The NIYP aims to engage Indigenous Australians in the electoral process, the most disengaged demographic in the electoral system. Tom’s role was taskforce coordinator which involved supporting, mentoring and training young Indigenous volunteers to lead their own volunteer team in their state/territory.
Tom has been involved in the YMCA since 2007, when he participated in the QYP in high school. Tom said he has “grown immensely from it and I really wanted to give back to a program that gave me so much and provide the opportunity I had to others. Working with the YMCA has really given me the opportunity to work with people from all walks of life and enabled me to see things from a different perspective.”
The $5,000 donation will support disengaged, disadvantaged and at-risk young people (particularly from regional/remote areas and Indigenous Australians) to participate in the Youth Parliament Programs. The donation will greatly assist in minimising barriers to participation in their programs.