YOUTH WEEK: Recognising the contribution of our young people; empowering them with the self belief to make a difference
When was the last time someone instilled in you a sense of self belief. That fire in your belly that speaks to your heart and says, “I got this”. It only takes a few words or actions to ignite that fire and yet I feel we often hold back from sharing it with others and ourselves as often as we should. The more I think about it the more I think how crazy that is, because something so simple can be so incredibly powerful!
This week marks the start of youth week across Australia. Happywhenfit started because I believe more young people need that sense of self belief instilled in them to want to make choices for themselves that develop their health and wellbeing. Something I have learnt in my own health journey is it doesn’t matter who or how many times someone tells you what’s good for you and what you should be doing for your health if you don’t have a why behind it. In other words, you have to have a purpose, a reason to want to choose those things for yourself that creates relevance and meaning to the behaviours. Health, like any value, has to be able to resonate with you in some way for you to live and choose it as a value.
Have you ever noticed how a lot of health concepts start with ‘self’? Self-worth, self belief, self acceptance, self love, self care - our actions are like a mirror to how we feel about ourselves inwardly. What fosters that inner relationship though? More than anything, I think it is the quality of our relationships that builds that self belief, because what those relationships do is highlight a purpose we all have as humans - to connect, to love and be loved, to give to others and ultimately through doing all of that, to give to ourselves.
Youth week is a week where we can recognise the contribution of our young people in our communities. I absolutely love being around young people and the energy they bring to fresh innovative ideas that can make a real difference. I think it’s because young people still approach most things they do from a place of love instead of fear. Adults can learn a lot from them - I do everyday! Our future is built on the belief we can instil in these young people. We have to nurture and develop that beautiful energy they have so they keep it with them as they transition into adulthood. The amazing thing about that is the potential we as adults have to do this everyday. Parents, teachers, coaches, friends - we all have the ability to build the self belief in young people that can make a difference. When you see them doing something good, tell them. When you hear them using their voice in positive ways, show them that you value it and give them a platform to share it. When they use their skills and values to contribute, acknowledge how special that is. When they aren’t sure or don’t no a better way, step up and be that role model for them! This isn’t just something we do during Youth week, it’s something that we need to do everyday and youth week is a time to raise awareness around that.
In my time as a teacher and through my interactions with young people with Happywhenfit, I have witnessed the effect that positive relationships and role models can have on the lives of young people. They can do amazing things when empowered with the belief to do so. It’s about providing that opportunity for them in every environment we can - schools, homes and communities. Not all kids are fortunate enough to have positive role models and encouragement in all areas of their lives. It is up to us to make sure that they get at least some exposure to it. That is why Happywhenfit places so much focus around an integrated approach to health education. To give someone a why, you have to show them the practical relevance it has to them and the more environments you can give them a place to practice it, the more meaningful it becomes. The more role models we can give them - parents, teachers, community people - the more likely they are to want to choose these things for themselves too. I for one don’t pay any attention to what someone teaches me if they aren’t walking the talk.
So as we head into youth week, I encourage you to be that someone for our young people. Be the positive encouragement, the words of affirmation, the healthy role model that supports health to become something they truly value not only for themselves, but for others and our environment.
Giving back in any form really is the gift that keeps on giving. Isn’t it the most wonderful thing in the World that when we help others see the potential within themselves, we open space for that light within ourselves too. Self belief is a journey that when shared becomes a vision of the potential we each innately have as human beings to make our love a connected picture that stands for something so much bigger than the self. Health starts here for me. This is my why. Because health isn’t just what you eat and how much exercise you do, it’s why you do it. What matters to you? Reflect on that and do more of it. What matters to me is that we pass onto our next generation this gift of belief, because within that they will craft their own health journey that will make a difference.
Happy Youth Week!