Program helps teens deal with tough challenges

Bradley Thompson takes part in an exercise at the Young People Making a Difference camp held at Tanyalla Recreation and Conference Centre, Tannum Sands.
Bradley Thompson takes part in an exercise at the Young People Making a Difference camp held at Tanyalla Recreation and Conference Centre, Tannum Sands. Luka Kauzlaric

DRUGS, booze, violence, death - our teens have had it hard.

But a program for adolescents, like one held at Tannum Sands on the weekend, is making a difference.

For Bradley Thompson the program not only changed his life, but saved it.

Now a young leader with Young People Making a Difference, or MAD program, Mr Thompson helps others cope with difficult challenges.

Growing up surrounded by domestic violence and heavy drinking, Mr Thompson began using drugs at an early age.

"When I was 14, I lost my best mate to a heroin overdose," Mr Thompson said.

"Unfortunately he died in my arms, on his birthday.

"That kind of messed me around and then I was introduced to the program.

Now completing a certificate in performing arts, the 19-year-old credits the MAD program for changing his life.

"I probably wouldn't be alive without MAD," he said. "I probably would have given up a long time ago."

Training to be a young leader like Mr Thompson, is 16-year-old Ellen Anderson, whose mum was diagnosed with cancer five years ago.

She said she struggled to cope as her mum relocated to Brisbane to receive treatment.

"She is in palliative care, so she is managing her pain," she said.

"I was grieving a lot. I was just a young teenager, I was going through school, looking after my family.

"But ever since I've came on MAD it's just help me prove that I'm not alone and that people here have gone through the same thing.

The camp received funding assistance from Variety, the Children's Charity. Details: 0417 748 075.

Topics:  counselling teenagers variety

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