image (1)Meet Rachael Ebrington who joined HeartWood in September for a Co-Op placement. Rachael has joined us all the way from Brisbane, Australia where she is studying Human Services at Queensland University of Technology. While at HeartWood she is learning all about youth engagement, community development and the power of creating meaningful, engaging and fun opportunities for all. We asked her to share her thoughts about community youth development and what she has learned so far at HeartWood.

” When asked what does community youth development mean to me a mixture of things come to mind. It is about combining the best of community development with youth development to help achieve greater outcomes and put youth at the forefront of their learning and experiences. By harnessing the power of youth to affect community development it allows for them to explore being leaders within their own community and explore their self, sense of belonging, identity and connections to family, friends, environment and community.

There are two gifts we should give Youth. One is Roots. The other is Wings. (Unknown)

Where you sit when you are Older, shows where you stood in Youth. (African Proverb)

The first quote for me is about allowing opportunity for youth to remain centred and focused and supporting them to explore their boundaries and see what’s possible and what meaningful contributions they can offer for themselves and community. The second is an important reminder that what you do in youth will set the grounds for what’s possible for your future not just for yourself but for your community. I feel that these are two important lessons to remind ourselves of and ground us when working in community youth development.

I see HeartWood is working on this change as it works not only within its immediate region but throughout the province, as well as on the international scale by working with communities in Australia. This is vastly different from previous work I have done as that was focused on building community within a school between the students, families and workers. However, having the opportunity to see HeartWood work on a much larger scale and the differences in approaches and learning experiences has been an incredible journey. Being here has impacted my studies and life in the best way possible and changed definitions and helped me learn more about community, youth engagement and community youth development. “