Group of young people and Becoming U staff pose and smile at the camera outdoors in front of a metal fish sculpture

Volunteers from Nambucca Heads High School and the team from Becoming U at the Inspire U: Stories from the Valley Film Premiere Event.

On March 18, over 350 young people, families and Nambucca Valley community members enjoyed the premiere screening of the feature documentary, Inspire U: Stories from the Valley.

Held at Nambucca Heads High School, the free film premiere event gave attendees a special program of inspiring stories of local people who overcame challenges to achieve success in different and meaningful ways.

The idea for the documentary came from local young people themselves who wanted to see the achievements of people like them, understand their journeys to triumph, and get advice on facing hurdles and setbacks.

Inspire U: Stories from the Valley is part of Becoming U, a unique initiative whose mission is to empower young people to unleash their potential and use it to thrive by working side-by-side with young people, rather than for them.

The documentary is now available to watch

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Becoming U is proudly supported by Uniting NSW.ACT and has formed a wonderful partnership with Nambucca Heads High staff and students who collaborated and worked hard to make the event special.

School Captain, Will McKinney, hosted the film screening and Kyiesha Cohen-Siemsen delivered the Welcome to Country before Cass Wilson, Becoming U’s Community Impact Co-ordinator, and Nambucca Heads High Deputy Principal Jo Marshall introduced the film.

Cass said, “It’s important to highlight and celebrate our young people and those from Nambucca Valley who have made a difference. Young people wanted to see more real people doing real things to feel more hopeful and have more self-belief.”

Jo added, “We’re really grateful and fortunate to have this partnership. If Becoming U is making a difference, one kid at a time, that’s really important.”

“I was SO excited at the Inspire U film event. Cass and I had been working really hard. We planned it three or four times and it had been cancelled and the weather was really bad [on the night], but I was amazed at the number of people who came, and lots of kids which was really wonderful to see.

Kyiesha is featured in the story alongside Kiarra, Kythera and Luwarna Cohen-Siemsen. Others who share their stories are Chris Edwards, Jacinta Shackleton, Oliver Gadbsy, Caitlin Hockey, Indi Livas, Andrew and Maia Holmes, Leah Benson, and Jane Mottley.

Ex-Nambucca Heads High student Courtney Jarrett said, “Hearing everyone’s life experience was amazing! Especially hearing from Chris, I never knew half the things he talked about and I’ve known him practically my whole life. Also, the girls at the end, hearing them talk about Aunty Valla made me tear up because I fully understand where they’re coming from.”

Current student Lily, part of the school’s Youth Force team and an event volunteer said, “I am so pleased I was able to be a part of such a spectacular evening. It was awesome to meet so many people and bring the community together.”

Nambucca Heads High Principal Dot Panaretos said, “The most wonderful feature of the evening was the number of students who gave up their time to help run the event. They worked with the coordinators and the Becoming U staff and I was very, very proud of them. The film highlighted the achievements of lots of people in the community who had suffered adversity and who had come from all walks of life. It was absolutely a great night.”

Jo Marshall added, “The film itself was just incredible, and really thrilling that there were kids from our school [in the film] Jacinta, Kyiesha, Kythera, Luwarna and Kiarra, and Andrew Holmes.”

“The student volunteers were amazing. I couldn’t really get very many of them until the day, so I’d say the word had gotten out there that it was on and that it was going to be really great and then I had kids coming up to me left, right and centre wanting to help out. They helped set up the hall, they helped set up the facilities, I know they helped Cass a lot and helped the food truck people. The band was incredible, the band worked all day and performed and then packed it down as well. It was great to see kids get involved in a community event.”

At the event, everyone enjoyed a free meal from local food trucks and great music from the Nambucca Heads High school band playing live for the first time in two years, and captured memories at the photo booth.

The Hon. Melinda Pavey, MP attended and mingled with Nambucca Heads High Principal Dot Panaretos and the crowd.

The Becoming U team are so happy about the success of the event and loved connecting with the community and showcasing the remarkable people from Nambucca Valley. We’d like to thank Jo Marshall, Dot Panaretos, all the wonderful volunteers who helped make the event happen and run seamlessly, the vendors, and of course everyone who attended.

Follow Becoming U on social to get the latest news and hear about more events. You can find us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Author: Simone Atallah

Take a look at some of the moments captured at the event in the gallery.

24 May, 2023
This passionate group of young people is making a positive impact in their community.
3 May, 2023
Gumbaynggirr woman Katherine Dunn tells why hard work and a great attitude are everything.
18 April, 2023
Surfer Teal Haigh shares her story and where her limitless determination comes from.
5 March, 2023
Young innovative chef Kyah Lulham shares his story and plans for self-sustaining restaurants.
31 January, 2023
Conservationist Caitlin Hockey shares why she's dedicated to protecting our unique environment.
17 January, 2023
The second Ball Against DV charity event was another huge success raising over $4,000.
19 December, 2022
The Nambucca Valley Youth Advisory Council are taking action to make positive change.


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