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Lessons from the Bonds x Reach Classroom

Community
By The Bonds Team

As longstanding, proud partners of the youth organisation Reach, one of our main focuses is to help fund the expansion of their youth workshops into regional areas and the training of new staff. Their thought-provoking workshops, such as Heroes Day, gives young Aussies the emotional and social tools to navigate life’s challenges and stand up for what they believe in, and so much more. Currently, our contribution helps to fund two trips to Alice Springs, 36 regional workshops, 496 secondary school workshops in VIC & NSW, and training for 24 new Reach Crew members.

“We build Heroes Day like a high energy music festival, but we design the content to get Year 9 students thinking about who they are now and how they want to be remembered. All while in a super fun environment and at a really pivotal time in their development.” – The Reach Team

The various Reach workshops tackle youth issues, including bullying and body confidence, and life’s big, important questions about finding meaning and purpose. And while every young Aussie isn’t able to attend these workshops in person, we thought we’d bring the lessons to you online to share a little bit of what goes down in the workshops so you can apply the learnings to your everyday.

Some of the awesome outcomes that Reach aims to achieve via their various workshops include:

  • Reframing the way challenges are perceived and faced
  • Building social and emotional skills
  • Increasing self-awareness
  • Helping develop meaningful connections with each other
  • Motivating young Aussies to make positive life choices

Want to know more? Take a seat in the BONDS x Reach Classroom and let’s explore some of the hot topics and big life questions concerning young people around the country today.

LESSON #1: Bullying

Bullying is a prevalent issue experienced by many young Australians in school and beyond. Bullying can make people feel alone, afraid and ashamed, leading to school avoidance and reduced well-being, even resulting in long-term negative mental health outcomes. We chatted with Reach Facilitator Blossom about her experience with bullying and how Reach workshops help provide strategies and tools to navigate the problem.

What was high school life like for you? 

I didn’t know how to deal with conflict. I was surrounded by a few friends that walked all over me and reinforced, in ways big and small, that my voice wasn’t important. So much so that I started to believe it myself. It destroyed my sense of self-worth.

Outside of these “friends”, I was the victim of a lot of bullying. It ruined my self-esteem and forced me into my shell every time I stepped into school. And when everyone in class started being old enough to get on social media and have phones in their pockets, it got much worse. When before I could go home and prepare myself for the next day, that scrutiny and teasing now followed me home. I couldn’t escape it and that pressure just became the norm. I’m still affected by it. To this day, the way I think and feel about myself is still unhealthy. But I’m aware of it and working through it.

How does Reach help?

Stereotypes and reputations are a huge part of high school life. We are able to break through all that and help these high school students see each other as humans who are scared, confused, and in need of love. We call out the dynamic and give them to tools and onus to shift that dynamic to something everyone is happier with. It’s really transformative. When the outside world felt dangerous, Reach gave me a space where I could get out of my shell and learn about myself without the fear of judgement that I’d have anywhere else.

What lesson did you learn?

Reach instilled in me the belief that I could take up space without feeling guilty. That I’m worthy of time and attention and love. 

LESSON #2: How would you like to be remembered?

People go through life constantly asking themselves this very question, but it is an especially important thing to think about when you’re young and making tough, often life-altering decisions about the present, future and your personal life. With the help of Reach workshops, the facilitators help tease out what makes you really tick and what’s most important to you. We chat with Reach facilitator Jana about finding our purpose. Jana’s words below:

We run heaps of workshops, but Heroes Days are the biggest. With 400 15-year-olds in the room everything is turned up to eleven. We take these young people on a full-day journey through some personal, intense stuff and after they’ve confronted some difficult questions about themselves, they walk away feeling emboldened with a new, courageous perspective on life.  

We run a guided reflection where we get young people to reflect on the life they’ve lived so far, and the legacy they want to leave behind. During this reflection everyone’s eyes are closed as they listen to the facilitator tell a story about them attending their own hypothetical funeral.

They are asked; How do you want to be remembered? It gets young people thinking about the mark they want to leave behind, and about how they will live their life differently with this new perspective.

Want to try it out? Take some time out to consider these thought provoking questions...

  • What are the defences you put up to protect yourself?
  • What are you truly afraid of?
  • What’s actually important to you?
  • What are the labels people put on you?
  • Is there someone in your life who you could appreciate more?
  • Do you always act in line with your values?  

LESSONS #3: Who are you, really?

“Just be yourself” is hard advice to follow. How much of “yourself” is you. And how much is what people expect you to be? It’s a tricky question. Reach’s workshop ‘Fused’ is designed to help you discover the best version of you in a unique youth-led environment that encourages participators to challenge themselves, connect to others and grow their self- awareness and resilience. It’s a safe space for young people to push their comfort zones and explore who they are.

Key takeaways from Reach on the best way to find out who you truly are include:  

  • Putting yourself in unfamiliar situations
  • Being brave and taking calculated risks     
  • Challenging yourself and seeing how you act under pressure     
  • And talking about deeper, important stuff more often.

Impact StoryA student named Tille tells us how Reach’s workshops helped her through a challenging period in her life.

At around 14 I started coming to Reach just out of interest. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but looking back on it I think I was looking for something more than just my simple private school, silver platter life.

I was pretty lucky in my first few years at Reach, but then when I was about 16 my parents really started to struggle and their marriage broke up. I also developed depression and anxiety. It was a really tough patch for me, but because I’d been coming to Reach, I’d already started to develop my self-awareness, resilience and self-belief. In retrospect, Reach had given me a really good understanding of my emotions and the space to be vulnerable, which meant that I had the support to make it through that stage of my life.

Interested in attending Reach’s workshops? They're 100% youth-led which means they’re always relevant. Workshops are available at Reach hubs and in schools and communities in VIC and NSW. Find out more here: https://www.reach.org.au/workshops/

Stay posted on the latest Bonds x Reach classroom instalments via our social media – Bonds Instagram and Facebook. Class dismissed!

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