A five-day camp for Indigenous youth – Dream Spark – has been launched as a pilot program by Minderoo Foundation’s Generation One initiative.
The program seeks to connect teenagers with entrepreneurs and influencers, to create a ‘spark’ in individuals to consider their futures and build a pathway for success.
Seven young men aged between 15 and 17 took part in the program, which featured a range of activities encouraging them to think about employment and study opportunities, accelerator programs or even starting a business.
The boys, who are all in the care of the Department of Communities WA and are not currently engaged in school, flew drones, built robots, met with recruiters and trained with players from the Western Force.
Program participant Chace Riley, 16, was excited about what he’d experienced during the week.
“It’s really opening up opportunities for me,” Riley said. “I told [the organisers] I wanted to be an accountant, and at Roy Hill I got to meet the CFO [chief financial officer] and he gave me his card. My favourite parts were the go-karting and playing touch rugby with the Western Force.”
Program facilitator Jenny Della-Vedova said the pilot program had started with great success.
“It’s really helped the boys believe in themselves, I think that’s the foundation of it,” Deela-Vedova said. “To watch them start to believe in themselves, and to build a picture and a vision of what they can do it’s been amazing. It’s not a matter of walking out of here and reaching their goals tomorrow, it’s going to be a winding path.”
Della-Vedova and the coordinators from Student Edge would be following up with the participants at six-month intervals, she said.
“I’ll be having one-on-ones with them to ensure they’re still on track to reach their goals, and to plan their next steps forward. Making sure they’ve got a resume, making sure they’ve got a part-time job if they need one,” Della-Vedova said.
Generation One chief executive Tim McDonald said after witnessing the pilot program in action he’s confident Dream Spark will have a lasting impact.
“The five days was an opportunity for these boys to explore what strengths they have and what employment opportunities they would like to pursue,” McDonald said. “The exposure to a technology economy was a divergence from their normal experience and not only did the boys love every minute, they also demonstrated amazing concentration and commitment to the program.
“We’ve learnt a lot from the pilot, and we’re excited with how it went and what future iterations will look like.”
After the success of this pilot Generation One is looking to run similar programs across regional WA and ultimately nation-wide. We will be seeking to partner with child protection departments, juvenile justice and other initiatives that cater for vulnerable indigenous youth.
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Eliza Rogers works as the Minderoo Foundation Communications Specialist in content creation and media. Eliza’s background is in the arts and not-for-profit sectors, she has worked in a political office and in the arts events industry in Western Australia. Eliza holds a BA in Public Relations with a business major in Marketing from Murdoch University.