This week was a very exciting yet emotional week as it was our last time being on Operation Newstart program. There have been many wonderful memories and friendships that have been formed and developed throughout the term which will be cherished and remembered throughout the students’ high school life. We began the week on Tuesday by picking up the students from Collingwood station and driving them back to the Collingwood alternative school. Here, we briefly discussed and reflected on an amazing term and talked about the character strengths that we all have acquired and developed through the activities we had completed on the program. After that, we continued with our community bike project as we gathered the students for a little walk to the Avanti bike workshop which was located just down the street. We brought the bikes we were donating with us to be repaired and polished to ensure it was safe before handing it over to the students from the Collingwood English Language School. After lunch, the students were given time to go on the computers to look at all the photos that were taken throughout the term and select their favorites for graduation. Once they completed the task, the students prepared and practiced their roles in teaching the English language students how to safely ride a bike and the safety precautions to consider by using the A-B-C-D-E bike check procedure. Towards the end of the day, the English language students arrived at the Collingwood alternative school where the students took control and showed great leadership as they managed to teach the English language students how to ride a bike successfully. The students demonstrated initiative and showed a lot of maturity as they guided and supported the English language students through the activity without any complications.
On Wednesday, the students all attended a Reach workshop for the entire day. Reach workshops are all about stepping out of comfort zones, talking about life and making new friends. Reach facilitates an environment that ensures emotional safety and positive connections for young people.
Thursday was the last day before our graduation and it was going to be a tough one with our afternoon boxing session with Sal. However, we started off the day at Oxygen Youth Services where reflected on our values, character strengths and how the activities we have completed has made us a better student and person overall. We discussed as a group the things we did well throughout the term (teamwork, respect & communication skills) but also the things we needed to improve on; such as our mindset and attitude towards our problems. After an insightful class discussion, we began individually working on our graduation speeches before heading to the Maribyrnong Youth Club to meet Sal for our intense boxing session. Sal put us through a grueling workout for our last activity on the program which included circuit training, bag work, sparring and a lot of pushups! Although the students had a slow start at the beginning of the session, with Sal’s words of encouragement; they up the ante and showed great discipline and amazing effort as they finished strong without making any excuses. After the session, the students were very exhausted but they should be extremely proud of themselves as they gave it their best efforts and completed the workout at a competent level!
Friday was a very bittersweet day as it was graduation day and the end of the program! The students arrived at Oxygen Youth Services very well-dressed for their ceremony with their speeches prepared and ready to go. The students were very nervous but excited to share their stories and what they learnt throughout the past 8 weeks on the program. Each student shared their unique stories, perspectives and skills that they learnt on the program while standing in front of an audience containing family members, friends, teachers, community members, school representatives and service providers. It was very heartwarming and pleasant to hear their individual speeches and how Operation Newstart has impacted them in a positive way. After the speeches, the students were applauded for their great efforts on the program and received their graduation certificates which acknowledged their completion of all the activities that they were involved in. Towards the end of the ceremony, the students and audience had a chance to watch a short movie that highlighted all the wonderful moments that the students had during their time on the program! We had such an amazing time working with the students as they were a delight to work with! The students should all be proud of themselves and how much they have grown whilst on the program. It was a pleasure getting to know you guys! After the ceremony, we all mingled and enjoyed some food together before saying our farewells and parting ways.
Special congratulations to all the young people that graduated this term. It was a joy working with you all and you guys should be extremely proud of what you have accomplished on the program. I hope you all had a wonderful time on Operation Newstart and continue being awesome! Best of luck next term!
Operation Newstart would like to give a big thank you to Moreland City Council, The Inner North Foundation, all the community members, parents, schools and service providers that were involved this term. Without your assistance, the program would not have been successful.