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MERRI-BEK TERM 1 2024 WEEK 1

Hello Everyone!


This here is our weekly blog for Operation Newstart term 1 of 2024. Here you’ll see the rundown of our 3 days and photos to accompany our students' achievements. We are also working alongside the Merri-Bek council this term to provide further support both during and post-program by integrating a youth worker (Jonni) from their service into our Wednesday sessions. Thank you for all the support Merr-Bek!


So let's get to week 1!


On Wednesday the 7th we met our students at Oxygen Youth Space. This is a key location tied to our connection with the Merri-bek youth services and council. Our first day is a way to introduce all of our students to the group but also to our staff. We began with a tour and a few games to loosen up before diving into personal profiles and our values. As a group we create a values system based on similarities between our individual values. This term our values were ranked in the following order:


  1. Relationships (family, friends, peers, pets etc.),

  2. Respect,

  3. Kindness,

  4. Trust/Loyalty,

  5. Health and Wellbeing.


This exercise is to see what as individuals we both want to receive but also what is asked of us whilst together. With this we are able to later remind them of our value system and allow the students to use it as a point of support if problems arise. After a quick break we moved on to a team building exercise, of ‘ball drop’. In this game the group must find the quickest and most efficient way to pass a ball through both the palms of all participating. The group though starting slowly warmed up and began to form a very officiant and respectful communication line, eventually utilising trial and error before coming to their end goal of 0.67 of a second! This being the most efficient group I have seen to date! They were quick thinking and did not discourage anyone's involvement allowing the activity to run smoothly. When we finished up at Oxygen we moved on to our second activity for the day, Boxing. Meeting our boxing coach Sal, a fireman for Fire Rescue Victoria, we were introduced to MAYSAR (Melbourne Aboriginal Youth Sport & Recreation). When welcomed to the space we spoke about our newly formed values and Sal’s value of Attitude, needing a positive mind and attitude to approach all things in life, including boxing. Sal led the group through a small circuit where our students diligently followed and listened to instructions. We finished our session with a handful of sparring sessions with Sal leading individuals around the ring with him. The first day was a great success and allowed everyone to feel more comfortable in their own skin while also getting something out of their first day together. 


On Thursday we met our students at Collingwood station and hopped on our bus to head to the outer east. We headed off to Sherbrooke Falls, a beautiful forest located in the outer east yarra ranges shire. Walking through this space we talked about nature and what we should do while in these natural spaces to conserve them. Taking breaks to look around during the walk everyone mixed amongst the group. When we finished our bushwalking experience we braked for a quick lunch, talking of our future camps and meals together. Once we came up with a few ideas for the future we headed to the bus and straight for TreeTops Adventure, a high ropes course in Belgrave. This space is a challenge by choice, where our crew listened intently during the orientation before choosing their challenge. Everyone gave it a go and challenged themselves throughout the day, whilst continuing to support one another throughout the courses.After this session we reflected on our individual challenges before making the journey back to collingwood. 


On Friday we welcomed the 8th member of our crew! Though a late entry she has been a great addition to our group. Once we introduced everyone again and retouched upon our values we headed to Collingwood Alternative School. Once there we touched on a few personal goals and struggles whilst playing some games, before taking a small break. Once together again we headed to a class room and discussed character strengths. Character strengths are a collective of 24 strengths all individuals hold but in varying degrees. By looking at these strengths we can identify what we are good at, what we can work on and something new about ourselves we didn't even know. For this we completed a via character strength test and reflected on our results. After this we focused on goals; what we want to get from Operation newstart, what character strengths we want to work on and something for our personal development. When done we took a lunch break at a park before heading off to Melbourne Polytechnic Fairfield. When there we met with Ash, a Landscaper by trade and Teacher at Melbourne Polytechnic. Ash takes us through the aspects of TAFE and landscaping specifically, explaining what they do and taking the crew through how to make a paved pathway. Following step by step the groups of 2 made their paths, everyone communicating and being able to get to the end result with a couple notes by Ash. When done the group admired their work before getting a quick pic and then thanking Ash for the activity and packing up the supplies. The group was quick about their work, cleaning and being dropped off for the weekend.


Everyone did amazingly this week, coming into a new and different environment and creating their own, new social group. We look forward to the weeks to come with them all 😃



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