Bellingen experience is a real eye opener

LISA Siegel felt like she hardly stopped at Friday night's EYEball but kids still managed to find her and ask how they could join Bellingen's Environmental Youth Experience.

“It was just great to see so many kids getting inspired and enthusiastic about what we are doing,” Ms Siegel said.

What she and more than 20 of the town's youth have been doing over the last few months is planning, mapping and refining their dreams about how to spearhead environmental change in their community.

And they've been working hard - teasing out ideas about how to collaborate with Urban Landcare, encourage other kids to attend their Youth 2 Nature camps, get more people on their bikes and host a lecture series featuring high-profile environmentalists.

All this creativity is being packed into a grant application and will be sent to the Foundation for Young Australians (based in Melbourne) in the next two weeks.

If successful the group will receive $190,000 over three years to realise their projects.

“It's been an intense process pulling it all together,” Ms Siegel said

“But the most amazing thing has been the kids - working through all these ideas.”

The EYEball was both a presentation and celebration of their efforts and the Memorial Hall was filled with kids bursting to have alcohol-free fun. Stephanie Lusby, project mentor visiting from Melbourne, said the foundation had been set up to help young people find creative ways to have a voice and an impact.

“Young people will make up most of the committee who will assess the application,” Ms Lusby said.

“This (EYE) group have big dreams but they are also pragmatic and clear about what they can achieve.

“In fact, even if they don't get the grant, I'm sure they'd still find a way of doing what they want to do.

“It's very exciting watching them operate and build partnerships within the community - there is a lot of support for the voice of youth here.”

  • For information contact Lisa Siegel on 0423 362 844 and see tomorrow's Coffs Coast Advocate for more photos.

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