Meet our local youth leaders and change-makers
While she was Becoming U’s Community Impact Strategy Co-ordinator, Cass Wilson profiled a remarkable local youth leader for Coffs Coast Focus magazine each month.
These inspiring young people come from many different backgrounds and have many different goals, but they are all change-makers and have wonderful advice for other young people.
We thank them for all that they do and can’t wait to see what’s next for them and experience their positive impact on our community and the world.
Scroll down for the complete collection of articles.
Dancer and performer Cordell Lockwood is a Gumbaynggirr man who’s passionate about his culture. He wants to educate people, including Indigenous youth, so they can have a better understanding of the power, beauty and strength his culture holds. Cordell considers his Elders mentors and wants to empower young people who he says should, “believe in what you’re doing, trust the process and back yourself”.
Proud young Indigenous woman, Jenna Haley, adores being a big sister and is in Year 11 at Bishop Druitt College. Highly motivated, Jenna is a 2022-23 service captain “already bringing school and community events to life” like helping lead RUOK? Day and Wear It Purple Day activities, is part of All One Under The Sun, and co-hosts her own radio show, The Milky Teas, with OneMob Radio. Jenna is drawn to positive energy from family, friends, dance and her culture and loves helping others and being a role model.
Nambucca Valley local, 19-year-old Tamsyn Spear loves sport. She plays touch football, basketball and athletics since the age of 7, but netball is what she loves the most. She is now a Development Officer with Netball NSW and is also studying physiotherapy at university. Embracing challenges and remaining positive and resilient are powerful skills Tamsyn has built, especially after having to overcome periods of vision loss due to an optic nerve disorder.
Singer, songwriter, guitarist, performer and basketballer. That’s a lot for 17-year-old Casey, who is also about to complete his H.S.C. Through sport, Casey’s made great friends and had opportunities to lead and encourage teammates. He’s also one of a select group of aspiring singers and songwriters in the NSW Talent Development Project. His mentor and music teacher at Coffs Harbour Senior College has helped push Casey to believe in himself.
Meet 17-year-old science lover Rebecca Leishman. Receiving a microscope when she was little and experiencing her mum’s battle with cancer firmed Rebecca’s desire to become a doctor or medical scientist. She also loves sports and has volunteered with RISE football organisation and the Valley Braves Warrior program for young basketballers.
Jonah Blackburn is a young Gumbaynggirr man who was a recipient of the Elsa Dixon Aboriginal School Based Traineeship through the Mid North Coast Local Health District. This fantastic initiative is a two-year program for students interested in pursuing a career in the healthcare industry. Jonah’s goal is to be a physiotherapist, and each week over years 11 and 12, Jonah worked one day at Coffs Harbour Hospital, studied at TAFE one day for his Certificate III in Allied Health Services and three days at school.
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With dreams of becoming an Olympic swimmer, Toormina High School Captain Mitchell Hickey trains 9 or 10 times each week before and after school. He has already made the National Team and also volunteers as a surf lifesaver. He’d like to become an occupational therapist and believes a good leader is open and always listens to others.
Mikal Tesfamariam was 6 years old when she and her family moved to Australia. Mikal was awarded a scholarship to Coffs Harbour’s Bishop Druitt College, where she is now the Academic Captain. She aspires to make a difference by encouraging others to talk about difficult things, come together, and create change and is already on that path with her role in the College’s human rights group and her involvement with the Youth Action Collective. The YAC is a group of young people across Coffs Harbour and the North Coast working to combat racism, mainly through art and music.
Sarah Fahey followed in her mum’s footsteps onto the basketball court and has been playing since she was 6 years old and refereeing since she was 12 for the Coffs Harbour Basketball Association. She is a great mentor to younger referees and players, and her experiences on the court and battling a health condition gave her the ability to keep a positive mindset, gain resilience and confidence, and deal with conflict and stress. Sarah’s been part of state and national referee development programs that take her closer to her goal of refereeing the WNBL and NBL.
Marko Kisose moved to Australia from the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2011 with his family, first to Brisbane and then he came to Coffs Harbour a few years after. He’s the vice-captain of the Tigers Football Club first grade team and learned to lead and mentor on the field. Support from a school teacher and his employer helped him obtain a bricklaying apprenticeship, and he’s working towards establishing a project to support refugees and create employment pathways. Marko’s always loved music. He leads the music in his church group, has a band with his cousin called The Brothers, and is part of the amazing All One Under The Sun project fighting racism and building resilience.
Since starting work at Out Of School Hours (OOSH) Care at 15 years old, Scout Bourke has completed a Certificate IV in School Education and worked as a teacher’s aide. She now leads the OOSH team in Coffs Harbour and loves helping to shape kids into “great humans” who are respectful. independent, resilient and connected. Through her guidance, Scout’s seen very nervous and shy kids build confidence, take on responsibility and become peer support mentors in their schools.
Molly’s goal is to work in the human rights field. Since leaving Nambucca Heads High, Molly Langley has completed a law degree while working four days a week, volunteered and continued to run the aid organisation that she founded when 16, The Fiji Project. The organisation focuses on providing resources for education, medication, hygiene, and sanitation and helps remove financial barriers to education.
Author: Simone Atallah