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Students practise faith and leadership at Fremantle youth summit


More than 130 student leaders joined the presenters and organisers of the Catholic School Youth Summit to celebrate the success of the inaugural event, which was hosted by Catholic Education Western Australia and the University of Notre Dame Australia. Photo: Supplied.

By Rachel Curry

More than 130 student leaders gathered recently for the inaugural Catholic School Youth Summit, hosted by Catholic Education Western Australia (CEWA) and the University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle campus.

The 24 June event continued the ‘Faith to Lead, Lead to Faith’ theme of the 2016 National Catholic Education Commission Conference (NCEC) held in Perth earlier in the week and brought together Years 10, 11 and 12 students from across the State.

Religious Education and Faith Formation Consultant at CEWA, Sandra Peterson, said the fact the NCEC Conference was being held in Perth prompted ideas for a similar event to be organised for students, which would help them develop skills such as leadership.

“It was really based around ‘Faith to Lead, Lead to Faith’,” she said.

“These opportunities were being offered to the leaders of schools and teachers and we thought, ‘What are we doing for students?’”

The Catholic School Youth Summit started with the students gathering for breakfast and hearing from Perth Archbishop, Timothy Costelloe SDB; University of Notre Dame Vice Chancellor, Celia Hammond; and CEWA Executive Director, Tim McDonald.

Throughout the day’s concurrent sessions, students were challenged to think about ‘What’s in a name?’ by discussing purpose and identity.

There were opportunities to listen to stories of faith in action and explore strategies to uncover the essence of resilience.

Melbourne rapper Fablice Manirakiza, aka FLYBZ, performed and spoke about his past as a refugee escaping violence in Burundi and how his story influenced his music and its message.

Fellow Burundian, Mireille (Mimi) Kayeye, a journalist with experience in social and community development work, shared her insights on being a young woman influencing positive change.

Students also worked with Paige Newmark, a Shakespearean teacher and director, to explore ways to best use their physical voice and outward presence to express their inner voice powerfully and effectively.

Mrs Peterson said organisers were extremely happy with the turn-out for the event, which saw students travel from as far as Broome, the South West and Kalgoorlie to attend.

“The vibe on the day was very exciting. The students weren’t in school uniforms so they were very relaxed and there was a cross-mix of kids from around the State,” she said.

Meaningful sessions throughout the day encouraged a high level of engagement and openness from the students, she added, and they were excited to take what they learned back to their school communities and inspire others.

Mrs Peterson said her personal highlight from the event was the significant number of young people involved, both as presenters and participants.

Dominic Sandon from St Charles’ Seminary, and Sophie Stewart from Australia Young Christian Students, were the MCs for the day, while Dannika Caylon from Mercedes College did the Welcome to Country.

“It was very much run by kids, not adults getting in front of kids. It was great having young people lead young people,” Mrs Peterson said.