By Glyn Henman
The last 12 months have sure thrown up some challenges for all Australians. With soul wrenching drought, the devastation of a record-breaking bush fire season, flooding rains and now COVID-19 and a nation wide lockdown. What are we to make of this time in history? What impact is it having upon our young people? Research will bring some answers to these questions in time, and time itself will show the depth of impact.
But what can we do right now? Let me first reflect on what I am seeing and hearing about what is happening with our teens.
Born in the age of 9-11
This current senior high school cohort were born in the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York, they entered their schooling during the GFC and now they are facing their final years of education studying from their bedrooms for months.
With this comes the disappointment of not been able to finish well and do all of the ‘last things’ you get to do with your classmates. The last sports carnival, the last school production, the last presentation, not to mention the loss of those key relationships with friends and teachers which so often bring inspiration for who we want to be and what we want to do with our lives. The sense of loss and disruption will linger, even if Australia manages to re-open and keep the Covid-19 cases in check. For teens in middle high school there is confusion and boredom and a sense of ‘why bother’.
Is there any hope? I believe there is. As I reflect on my grandmother’s life, born in the late 19th century, her stories gather new meaning. My grandmother lived her life through two world wars, the Spanish Flu and a technological revolution (think: horse and cart to man walking on the moon). What a resilient and innovative generation! This current generation of young people will also rise. Adversity brings opportunity. Opportunities are taken by those who are open to new things and young people are the most open group among us. It will look different, but there is hope.
Gratitude and seeds of hope
As I listen to my daughters reflect upon this time and how their friends are feeling, the sadness, fear and sense of loss is clear. But they are grateful to have the security of family nearby. They are thankful they can still get an education and they see opportunities in their future. They are hopeful for their friends too because Covid-19 has provided both time and a reason to explore old answers to the big issues of meaning and hope.
Will this generation be as resilient and innovative as my grandparent’s generation? I believe so and time will tell.
So, what can we do right now? We can pray.
Pray that God will be our security, that people will turn to him, seek His face and be protected in troubled times. Psalm 91.
Pray for Jesus to be lifted up so He will draw all of mankind to himself and for us to walk in the light. John 12:30-36.
Pray for the hope and true rest that comes from God. Psalm 62:5-8.
Pray for young people (and their families) in our community as they battle the highs and lows of living during a pandemic; and for clarity and a new vision as opportunities come their way. Isaiah 40:28-31.
This document is a guide for Young Life Australia staff and volunteers. We’d like to share it as a source of information for parents, carers and other organisations we work with in partnership.
Young Life Australia is committed to the safety and wellbeing of all staff, volunteers, young people and their families. With the outbreak of the COVID-19 (Novel Coronovirus) and its transmission in the wider community, our commitment is to act responsibly and in line with Health Department guidelines, to look after ourselves and everyone involved in the Young Life network.
- Check your State Health Department website for the latest and reliable updates.
- Protect yourself and others: wash your hands regularly with soap (sing happy birthday to yourself and then rinse), cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue. Importantly – stay at home if you’re feeling unwell.
- If you develop a fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath within 14 days of overseas travel or are in contact with someone else who has COVID-19, seek medical attention: call your GP, Healthdirect on 1800 022 222, or in an emergency, your local hospital emergency department.
- In the event that you believe you have been in close contact with someone who may have been exposed to COVID-19, please ensure that you report to a doctor for testing. Please inform Young Life Australia as well.
- Close contacts of a confirmed case of COVID-19 will be excluded for 14 days since last contact with the confirmed case.
- Any confirmed case of COVID-19 will be excluded until they are medically cleared to return to work.
Young Life Club Precautions – Instructions for Staff
- Inform parents and young people Young Life Clubs and gatherings have been suspended until further notice from Monday, March 23, 2020.
- Request parents inform Young Life Australia if in the next two weeks they or their child:
- develop a fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath or,
- learn they have had close contact with someone who may have been exposed to COVID-19.
- Please retain records of who attended activities just in case we need to inform health authorities in the future.
Young Life Australia will continue to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation and work through the implications of managing the COVID-19 challenge, responding to the relevant Health Department updates as they are announced.
Thank you for your ongoing support with this matter. We will continue to keep you updated.
CEO, Young Life Australia
P: 1300 557 647 E: email@example.com W: younglife.org.au
Will you help Young Life Australia reach more teens with a life-changing message of hope?
The end of the financial year is fast approaching and I’m writing to ask if you will consider making a donation toward Young Life’s youth programs.
Your gift really will make a difference!
In the past year, Young Life Australia has played a part in more than 3000 young lives through our programs, camps and chaplaincy work. Our uniquely local and relational programs are helping to impact the life and culture of close to 60 school communities across Australia… and we’d like to do more.
I’m sure you agree, making a difference in the life of just one teenager who is struggling to believe in their own self-worth is incredibly worthwhile.
But in reality, every time a teenager turns from despair to a new sense of hope, ripples occur in every direction. Classmates notice the difference. Teachers, parents and siblings watch in amazement.
Everyone can see the change and are filled with hope because the young person they know and love, has found a new sense of purpose.
Ebony’s* story is one such example. Ebony’s early years were spent in foster care due to the turmoil in her mother’s life. Today she lives with her grandmother and attends a school where Young Life is active. Recently she began attending Young Life Club. It was the change in a close friend that attracted her interest. Why had he changed? What was behind it?
Her skepticism was high but Young Life Club wasn’t threatening or weird. Over time she became a regular and Young Life gave her a place to think through her early experiences which were troubling. She learned about God’s love for her which has changed the way she sees her own value as a person and her life at school and home. Young Life allowed Ebony to grow in assurance, simply by offering friendship, consistency and words of hope.
This is the real gift – and there are many stories like this arising through Young Life’s work in your area as well.
I believe, there are countless young people like Ebony searching for answers and acceptance. With your help, Young Life will continue to offer a sound and secure base upon which young people can grow and develop socially, emotionally and spiritually.
Please, will you make a donation by downloading our Giving Form and returning it to Young Life Australia, PO Box 240, West Ryde NSW 1685? If you are a regular donor, it is possible to increase your regular gift or to make a one-off additional tax-deductible gift. Our online giving page can be found at younglife.org.au/give.
We are so thankful for your involvement in the work of Young Life.
CEO | Young Life Australia
- Ebony’s name and some details have been changed for privacy reasons
During the course of a year, Young Life groups all over Australia run youth clubs and other opportunities for teenagers to get together.
Right now, Young Life is asking friends in the community to get behind Young Life’s clubs and activities for youth in local towns and suburbs as regular donors.
The impact of meeting every week, mixing with students from different schools across the age range is amazing.
Without the pressure of school, teenagers can be themselves and for volunteer adults who lead the program, they get to see the beautiful, generous side of these teens.
“The youth who come to our club really care for one another. They are like a family and keep inviting their friends to come. They want others to be part of it too,” says Young Life team leader Holly Lim.
Holly runs the Young Life Club in Ermington NSW with the help of some talented, dedicated volunteers.
“Every team member is involved in a local church and this is their way of giving back into the life of their local community,” says Holly.
Recently, the team held a Colour Run in Halvorsen Park attracting 50 young people from the local area. The games and Colour Fight drew a crowd spectators who were out and about enjoying the evening.
“We met some local families and kids were able to spontaneously join in to something fun happening in their neighbourhood,” says Holly. “We’d love to be able to offer more activities like this that build into the life of the local area.”
Young Life Australia is a non-denominational Christian outreach and registered charity focused on supporting young people during their High School years. It is Australian based and has been working with youth since 1972.
It is active in 13 regions across the southern and eastern states of Australia. Find Young Life near you by visiting younglife.org.au/contact.
Young Life Australia is dependent on the generous support of monthly donors to provide activities and opportunities for youth as well as training for volunteers. It is currently seeking new donors.
“Regular donations are urgently needed to support Young Life club throughout the school year as we don’t attract or seek government funding,” says Young Life Australia CEO Glyn Henman. “It’s very much a community endeavour relying on people who are really concerned for teenagers and the challenges they face.”
“Being present and a part of their world matters. Helping to build the confidence and resilience of Australia young people matters. It’s so rewarding and we are so grateful to those who give and allow us to be part of this work with teens,” says Glyn.
Young Life Australia’s vision is to build confidence, values and resilience in Australia’s young people through significant relationships with adults who model the love of Jesus Christ. Learn more at younglife.org.au.