Bellingen High students showcased their Youth Frontiers projects in the school library on Wednesday before an appreciative audience of teachers, mentors, family and community members.
Putting an extra creative spin on the event, they also sang an original song they'd written about the program, which sees students and their volunteer mentors spending six months working on a community-focused project.
This year, there were projects that promoted environmentally friendly food packaging for the school canteen (Oscar Kanaley, James Pollard and Eve Pullinger); highlighted the dangers of microplastics in clothes (Lydia Chesterman); raised awareness of Neurofibromatosis (Gabe Shiell); provided healthy snack options for students at school who may not have recess or lunch (Evie Quennell and India Cowley); and encouraged a local business to issue paperless tickets (Marlo Gunning).
The mentors - Emily Lowe, Kate Thompson, Anthea Flower, Mike Bradberry and Petros Manolopoulos - volunteered their time, experience, skills and connections to help support the students and guide the projects to fruition.
"One of the big things that Youth Frontiers does is to show young people that with very little resources, but with motivation and commitment, you can really make a positive difference in this world," said Sue Currie from Mid Coast Communities, the organisation that has been running the program for the last three years.
Indie and Evie - created the Cupboard of Caring to provide snacks for students who may not have recess or lunch. With the assistance of Anthea Flowers and Kelly Small the CoC is now located at Breakfast Club Monday through to Friday for those in need.
Eve, James and Oscar - were determined to help make the school canteen plastic free and encourage the use of environmentally packaging and single use products. Vickkie Smart, the canteen manager, listened to the students and worked with them to make the canteen more environmentally friendly.
Gabe - wanted to create a community catch up opportunity for young people suffering with NF. With the assistance of his mentor Kale Thompson he contacted the Children's Tumour Foundation and set about reaching out to others with NF. Gabe plans to organise a casual catch-up in the near future.
Marlo - worked on two projects, one being to promote paperless tickets at the Jetty Theatre. Upon contacting the JT, Marlo learnt they do offer a paperless option, however it wasn't noticeable on their website and they assured Marlo that they would make the option more obvious. Marlo is also working on the installation of a Street Library on the north side of Bellingen where people may exchange, borrow or keep books and magazines. These projects have been completed with the help of Mike Bradberry.
Lydia - was concerned about the impact to the environment from the textile and clothing industries. Synthetic fibres such as polyester, which is used to make the school uniform at Bellingen High School, is made out of oils and acids that are harmful to the human body, the earth, life on it and to the people making the clothing. This is why she chose to work on ways to make the school uniform ethical, sustainable and environmentally friendly. Lydia was assisted by Petros Manolopoulos and Mike Bradberry.