Colo High: Discussion Group

This image contains seven beautiful Colo High kids seated in a pleasant sunny classroom.

Last Friday, I had the pleasure of chatting to seven cheeky, bright and insightful Year 10 students from Colo High School. They collaborated with me on a discussion about their education, their community and their world. I was mostly interested in providing a platform for them to speak openly in an independent space, where they knew their views and thoughts would be heard and respected.

My questions were designed only to "get them started", and once they had their (adorable) initial giggle, they were off and running! The only other time they may have met me was through their school's canteen window, so their level of openness and willingness to share in this discussion was truly remarkable. You will soon see that #openness is a powerful theme of their conversation, and across different contexts.

The aim of this video is to present the unique perspectives of local youth on various topics to the rest of the community, presenting an opportunity for the rest of us to hear them speak online and in depth. As you will increasingly begin to notice, the method behind my discussion videos is not necessarily from an "entertainment" or "media" approach. This video runs for 30 minutes. The reason for this is because the kids said things they felt were important and relevant. I'm not going to stand in the way of their agency by editing their valuable dialogue to suit a Facebook attention span, despite making the video available on Facebook. I hope to offer resources which are a little more useful than that, and in my contributions to the archives of our local history.

This video is great for anyone, whether you're someone who isn't often in direct contact with teens, a teen yourself, or perhaps one of our many local teachers just looking for inspiration at the closing of the academic year. It must be said; these seven teenagers are a credit not only to their families, schools and community, but to their generation. With the future of our society in their hands, I feel pretty optimistic about where it's all going.

It's a great time to be opening up opportunities for the young people of the Hawkesbury to advocate for themselves, and April of this year saw the 2017 Hawkesbury Youth Summit raising several of the same topics that you see discussed here; those issues being:

  • affordable public transport

  • mental health

  • youth activities and facilities

  • a desire to maintain the Hawkesbury's natural and cultural heritage

The Colo High students in this week's discussion had more to add to the list:

  • inclusive learning for diverse school populations

  • marriage equality

  • the benefits of travel as a learning opportunity

  • openness as a defining feature of their generation

  • learning differences; specifically Dysgraphia

  • feedback on peer literacy and numeracy programs

  • a response to Council's recent announcement of a youth-relevant program

  • suggestions for liaison between youth and Council

  • environment

  • development

  • infrastructure

The 2017 Hawkesbury Youth Summit was a follow-up to the 2015 event of the same name, and there are consistent efforts being made by other key players in the community. This discussion gives us some constructive feedback from the kids on their perception of how we - the adult custodians of their community - are going.

At a time when Hawkesbury City Council has made clear their intention to more actively engage local teens in learning, leadership and decisionmaking, it's a nice opportunity to sit for 30 minutes with these kids and listen to their perspectives. They actually surprised me by quite directly addressing some things they feel their local council can be doing, both on a large scale and in small adjustments to procedure and/or attitude.

Many thanks again to the Colo staff who were so helpful in providing everything I needed to get this happening. Most of all, thank you to these beautiful kids for offering your time, energy and insights.

If you wish to get your school or other organisation involved, you only need to ask! Get in touch.


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