First up I wanted to say cheers for taking the time to read Reach’s 2016 annual report. I know that annual reports aren’t always the most fun things to read, so we’re going to make it a bit more interesting for you by telling you about our year through stories. Storytelling has always been something we’ve done pretty well so we thought this could be a pretty sick way to go about it.
To start off, I’ll tell you a bit about my own story and how Reach fits into it all.
I grew up in Sydney’s inner west and my Mum passed away when I was 9. My Dad was never really around much so it was my older sister who brought me up. I was a pretty naughty kid in school – I had a lot of older friends and was constantly getting into trouble. I never really went to school and when I did it was rare that I actually went to class so teachers were always pretty worried about me and so were some of my friends. One of my good mates Telaine was involved with Reach (and still is!) and said I should give it a shot… well, she pretty much forced me to go along.
My first Reach experience was with one of the community workshops called Grounded. The way I’d explain Grounded would be that it’s for young people who don’t quite fit the standards or expectations that high-school places on them. They think differently, they perceive things differently – I guess it’s just about getting a bunch of young people together who have been placed in a box and told they’re disengaged, or told they’re not good enough for school and that they’re not going to do well. To this day, Grounded shows these young people differently, just like it showed me. After doing Grounded I was pretty hooked so I went along to a few camps before deciding to apply for crew so that one day I could start running workshops myself.
All the workshops run at Reach aren’t like your typical youth programs – I’ve never actually seen or heard of anything else like it. Each year we work with tens of thousands of young people , some who are creators, actors, musicians, writers, artists, doctors, teachers, athletes, travellers, lawyers; the crazy thing is they just don’t know it yet or they don’t believe they can ever be these things. That’s where Reach and the young crew who run the workshops come in. We have hundreds of young people who work at Reach from 16 year olds through to 30 year olds who run our corporate and social enterprise workshops. The young crew spends hours in training spaces, activities or workshops for personal development to learn to be the best version of themselves. Once that seed begins to grow and these champs learn the ropes and have more knowledge and self-confidence, we give them the space to learn how to run the workshops themselves. This isn’t a job we do just for money; for a lot of us it’s simply because we care and we were once those kids who didn’t believe in ourselves or thought we could ever achieve our dreams. Since being at Reach I’ve met crew who have travelled the world, been on TV, made music tracks, had their own art-shows, started their own businesses, built the courage to get up and speak in front of hundreds of people, owned their sexuality, owned their culture, and stand up for the things they love and believe in.
It’s been 5 years since my first workshop and now I’m helping to design and deliver them to schools and the community alongside other legends who have become some of my closest friends. To be completely honest, there have been times where I’ve wanted to leave Reach because being open, raw and constantly challenged can be damn hard! I’ve stayed because of the awesome people I work with and because I know Reach is helping me become the best person I can be. I’m only 20 and I’m still not 100% sure what it is I want to do with my life, but Reach has taught me that I’m capable and to always trust and back myself.
My hope for Reach’s future is that by the time I’m a Mum, Reach is even more booming and my kids have the chance to be a part of something even bigger. I also hope that every young person nationally can get to experience the awesomeness that is Reach, and that they then take everything they learn into their own worlds. You guys reading this are a massive part of making these dreams come true, so big-ups to you!
NEXT: HISTORY & OVERVIEW