Ladder Step Up Latrobe Valley - Final weeks of program 1

Week 4

This week, the group has started to feel more settled and supportive of each other. On Monday, we headed off on the V-Line towards the MCG for a tour of the stadium and a trip to The Mystery Rooms Melbourne – Escape Room. The group was lucky enough to be joined by AFL players, including Darcy Lang, Jed Lamb, Cillian McDaid, Ciaran Byrne from the Carlton Football Club and AFLW player, Aasta O’Connor from the Geelong Football Club.

The rest of the week was spent locally in Latrobe Valley. The group participated in a health and wellbeing day and welcomed Gabrielle, a nutritionist from the Latrobe Community Health Service and Yogi, Tess and Life Coach, Melinda.

On Thursday, the group headed off to their various work experience locations. One young person couldn’t contain their excitement and raced back to the Ladder office to give an update while she was on her lunch break. Without a breath between words this young lady expressed her passion for a career in the beauty world and more specifically the wonderful mentorship and learning she was receiving from owner. It was fantastic to see her enthusiasm!

The week concluded with a debrief on their day at work, which provided the young people with an insight into a variety of experiences and left some young people eager to try roles that they had not previously considered.

The day concluded with a visit from Bunnings manager, Tracie, who are supporting the group through the planning stages of our community project – creating gardens at Parklands Kinder. The planning session was used to collate pictures and plans drawn on their previous site visit to the kinder. Tracie helped the young people work together and highlighted the importance of planning and designating leaders or areas of responsibility.

Week 5

Week five kicked off spending time with the young people to get them job-ready.

The first activity was a mock-interview, with each young person lucky enough to have a one on one interview with local business professionals. The panel included recruitment experts Sam May from Bank Australia and Tony Flynn from Latrobe Valley Authority. The young people had an interview time that they were expected to arrive on time for, were required to sign in and dress smartly for the occasion. Sam and Tony also spent time assisting our young people to develop a professional resume. There were some initial nerves from the young people, as this was the first time many of them had attend an interview, however the feedback was extremely positive and they left feeling better prepared for interviews in the future.

This week, we also welcomed a couple of guest speakers to the Ladder Latrobe Valley HQ. Firstly, we were joined by Jarrad, who is employed with a local bank. Jarrad is the founder of several start-up business, including a successful clothing label. Jarrad spoke to the group about being aspirational, challenging yourself and self-belief. An inspirational insight in to the life of a great young entrepreneur and we thank him for giving up his time to be part of the program.

Next, we heard from Jonathan who works with the Latrobe Health Assembly. Jonathon had a relatable story to some of our young people, which included a period of homelessness and an inability to secure a safe home and employment. However, Jonathan relayed a message of hope and inspiration, as he shared the progress he made and now has a career in HR. Our young people gained further advice regarding resumes, job applications and sustainable career paths to consider.

The next session for the week was run by Jessica Rhodes, who facilitated a well-presented session on healthy relationships, consent and personal space. This session opened a variety of important subjects in a safe environment to tackle the hard issues in life. It was informative, insightful and invaluable for the young people.

The remainder of the week was spent doing some exciting and fun activities. Firstly, the group completed the community project at Parklands Kinder. The group built a purpose-built garden for the local kindergarten and received incredible support from Tracie from Bunnings and Kurnai Secondary College Hands on Learning Centre.

This project was a highlight of the program and gave our young people a sense of self pride and involvement within our community. The kinder students were absolutely delighted and mimicked the workers with their miniature wheelbarrows and shovels acting as little apprentices for the day!

The week ended with another visit to Melbourne, this time to watch the Collingwood Football Club take on the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium. Mad Collingwood supporter Sean couldn’t wipe the smile of his face, armed in Pies colours – he didn’t look away from the match for a second and luckily for him the Mighty Pies delivered a good win!

Week 6

The final week of program one started with a drive to The Summit camping ground, for an overnight stay. The group was excited to take part in activities which challenged their fears and belief in themselves. This included one young person climbing on the flying fox, without hesitation. A woman who was once scared and fearful, was now up to the challenge and full of confidence. The flying fox evolved in to a monster obstacle course which included team challenges, mud, climbing through rabbit warrens and under a barbed wire fence. The group had built such comradery and respect for each other over the past 6 weeks that each had the desire to motivate each other and received support and encouragement from their peers.

The final day of the program was spent celebrating the conclusion of the first program. The guests were delighted to watch some footage of the program and shared a laugh with the young people as they reminisced together and acknoweldged how far each person has come.

Victorian State Manager, Leigh Kennedy spoke fondly of each participant whilst Matthew was awarded the most dedicated and committed program participant. An extraordinary and respectful young man who challenged himself daily without complaint and frequently stepped out of his comfort zone. Matt fully devoted himself to Ladder Step Up Latrobe Valley and modestly received this well-deserved recognition. The graduation was also an opportunity to thank the family and friends who supported the participants through the program.

Program One is now complete, however each young person will continue to engage with Ladder staff for one on one sessions to support them as they fulfil their goals, find employment and progress mentor relationships.

Congratulations to each Graduate of the first ever Ladder Step Up Latrobe Valley program!