Nillumbik/Banyule Term 4 Week Six

Our busy week again started at the Eltham YMCA. The students are really comfortable with the gym now and have a good understanding of the different services available. Physical exercise is important for a range of reasons and getting to know local facilities can be really beneficial for young people wanting to do more exercise but not knowing where to start.

After our morning at the gym we headed over to Banyule Bike Hub in Heidelberg. This bike hub is a great service run by volunteers, where people are able to bring their bikes for repairs, or to fix up a second hand bike for themselves. Having a bike can give a lot of independence to anyone, including young people. Our students took in a number of children's bikes that had been donated to the program, to repair and maintain before donating them to younger children in need in the community. We learnt from the volunteers at the bike hub about the most important sections of the bike to ensure are in working order, including the brakes, gears, handlebars, pedals and seat. These bikes will now be donated to the YMCA Open Doors program to be distributed to children where needed. This project is a great way of learning new skills as well as giving back to the community.

Thursday this week was one of the biggest days on the entire program- caving. Students met us nice and early at the station, before jumping on the bus and heading out to the Labertouche cave. On the way we picked up Chris, our caving expert for the day. Once we arrived at our destination, we spent a bit of time preparing everything we needed for our time spent within the cave. This included old clothes and overalls, helmets, head torches, spare batteries, the first aid kit, abseiling equipment and ropes. Once we were all prepared, we headed down the forest track to the cave entrance. This is where the nerves really set in for our students. One of the most challenging parts of the caving experience is the entry into the caves. Students (and staff!) must put on a harness and be lowered into the cave by rope. Being lowered into a small dark space is very daunting, and while some students found it extremely scary they were all able to do it successfully with the support of others.

Every single student who went through the cave was highly supportive of others. It's wonderful to see everyone working together, whether it's by verbally guiding someone through a space or physically helping them. Caving is a highly physically and mentally exhausting activity and our entire group worked well together to make it through in good time. Well done everyone, you should be really proud of your efforts.

Given caving is so exhuasting and a long day, we had a slightly later start on Friday morning, before our Headspace session at Headspace Collingwood. Here the students were introduced to what Headspace offers by James, as well as talking about stresses, worries, mental health and self care. Introducing students to services such as Headspace is really important for them to know another place where they can get support. Greensborough Headspace is opening up in the new year, which will be a great resource for young people in the area.

After Headspace, we headed back to CAS to prepare for camp next week. This involves getting all of our individual and group equipment ready, planning meals and making sure we're ready to go on Wednesday morning. Looking forward to it!

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