Young people step forward for year of public service

READY TO SERVE: The newly appointed youth council.
READY TO SERVE: The newly appointed youth council. Ebony Battersby

THEY'RE nine of our best young people and they're ready to serve the city.

Gladstone welcomed its new youth council into what should be an exciting and challenging year of public service on Wednesday night.

Louise Van Wyk, 17, from Tannum Sands, Bonnie Lawler, 17, from, Calliope, Zac Smith, 23, from Gladstone, Christopher Ibell, 15, from Gladstone, Katie-Jayne Morgan, 16, from Gladstone, Erin Dearden, 16, from Boyne Island, Sarah Janson, 18, from Gladstone, Lachlan Muller, 22, from Gladstone and Ben Govan, 21, from Gladstone, make up the city's new youth council.

In the company of Gladstone's youth council, a passion they share for effecting change becomes infectious.

Mental health services, disability awareness and youth engagement are the key objectives of the ambitious group.

Mayor Gail Sellers says the members were selected based on their excellent submissions and their prior involvement in volunteering and the wider community.

It is the first time in 13 years a youth council has been appointed in a mutual exchange with Gladstone Regional Council.

Sarah Janson, a graphic design apprentice, said her time in the youth council would be remembered by an increase in youth activities.

"I know a lot of people my age leave Gladstone because of a lack of entertainment and activities," she said.

"I'd like to be a part of making a change in that respect."

Bonnie Lawler displayed her dedication to the youth council by checking out of hospital to attend the meet and greet.

She is a passionate advocate for disability awareness in our community.

"Gladstone needs to do more for people who have a disability. We should go to primary schools and talk about the subject of disability," she said.

"We do a subject in high school about bullying. Why can't a subject be about disability?"

The youth council will elect a chair and deputy chair at their first meeting to be held on May 26.

YOUTH COUNCIL

Louise Van Wyk, 17, from Tannum Sands:

Louise is a Year 12 student. She has been involved in her high school's Senior Mentors Program for the past two years and has been a member of Navy Cadets for four years.

She has volunteered at many events.

Bonnie Lawler, 17, from, Calliope:

An active volunteer for Special Olympics Gladstone region for the past two years, Bonnie Lawler assists young people with disabilities to participate in sport and be valued members of the community.

She is a Year 12 student, also studying at Gladstone TAFE College and employed on a part-time basis.

Bonnie volunteers at Rosella Park School as a special needs teacher aide and is also an assistant coach for Learn to Swim for children with physical and intellectual disabilities.

Zac Smith, 23, from Gladstone:

Zac is employed full time and currently studying an Associate Diploma in Electrical Engineering.

With plenty of fresh ideas for programs and initiatives to keep local youth safe, interested and out of trouble, Zac believes he can help make a difference for youth of the Gladstone region.

Zac has been heavily involved with the local community over many years, serving in numerous executive committee roles.

Christopher Ibell, 15, from Gladstone:

Christopher is a Year 11 student at Gladstone State High School.

A Senior Mentor at GSHS for 2014 and a Junior School Captain in 2013, Christopher also has strong networks within the local community through his involvement in hockey, cadets, sailing and instrumental music.

Christopher is a youth umpire co-ordinator for Meteors Hockey Club, which involves co-ordinating the umpiring of matches and coaching and mentoring of new umpires.

Katie-Jayne Morgan, 16, from Gladstone:

Katie-Jayne is a Year 12 student and works part time.

Part of the Gladstone Youth Ambassadors, a member of her school's executive team and the Interact/Rotary Club, Katie-Jayne is also heavily involved in community musicals and sports such as netball, touch football and athletics.

Erin Dearden, 16, from Boyne Island:

Erin is a Year 12 student and works part time.

Having lived in the Gladstone region for 10 years, Erin said she had gained insight into the needs of youth in the community.

Erin enjoys being part of community-based projects and has volunteered her time to charity work such as the Red Shield Appeal and Leukaemia Foundation doorknock appeals.

Sarah Janson, 18, Gladstone:

Sarah is a first-year apprentice.

Sarah is a keen musician and performer, and has participated in school bands, school

musicals and combined schools' musicals.

Sarah feels with her employment background and communication skills she could engage with young people to become more actively involved in the Gladstone region.

Lachlan Muller, 22, from Gladstone:

Lachlan works full time.

Helping to improve a young person's experience while living in the Gladstone region plus an interest in how council operates were the inspiration behind Lachlan's successful nomination for the Gladstone Region Youth Council.

Lachlan volunteers his time to many local causes and organisations and is actively involved with the Rotary Club of Gladstone, Gladstone Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Gladstone Festivals and Events, Gladstone Multicultural Association Inc and the Gladstone Model Train Club.

Ben Govan, 21, from Gladstone:

Ben works full time.

With a good grasp on youth issues and experience working with youth, Ben Govan is excited about the opportunity the new Gladstone Region Youth Council gives for young people to influence their community.

For the past two years Ben has volunteered his time working as a youth group leader.

He is also a night-time radio host on community radio station 91.9 Fresh FM, part of the Gladstone Night Chaplains and a leader at various youth camps.



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