The legends at Youth Futures

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This year, Dismantle has been building a strong relationship with Youth Futures, which, among many other things, provides alternative education pathways for kids doing it tough.

Beginning as crisis accommodation for teenagers in 1988, Youth Futures – then Wanneroo Youth Accommodation Services (WYAS) – gradually expanded its services to zero in on the causes and exacerbations of youth homelessness. They noticed that many of their clients had disengaged from mainstream education, and recognised that mainstream education wasn’t necessarily for everyone.

In response, the organisation launched an alternative educational pathway called Community Outreach Model of Education & Training (COMET). This gave kids a flexible environment in which to complete their studies – one that was responsive to individual needs. 17 kids enrolled in into that pilot program in 2002.

These days, the organisation has five different campuses across the Perth metro area. They have two different alternative education options, both registered with the Department of Education. Anchor Point, with campuses in Ballajura, Bassendean and Heathridge, is for students aged 15-19 to complete their Certificate I or II in General Education within a flexible environment and with one-on-one support. COMET, with campuses in Clarkson and Caversham, are Curriculum and Re-Engagement (CaRE) Schools, with high staff to student ratios, tailored support, and life skills embedded into the curriculum.

Since term 2 this year, Dismantle has run BikeRescue programs at four of Youth Futures’ five campuses. In all programs, there was a real focus on awakening passions and supporting participants in devising pathways into future work and education opportunities. One participant, who had critically low school attendance, had such a natural skill for mechanics, the mentors kept having the invent new challenges for him to keep him engaged. Johno suggested a career pathway as a mechanic, which the participant hadn’t even considered, and set him up with a traineeship at BikeDr.   

Other participants struggled with emotional issues such as anxiety and depression, and the mentors worked with them to regulate these better. They taught participants about coping strategies and helped them with language and identification, so that they were better able to name and reflect on the emotions that had been overwhelming them.

It’s been an amazing couple of terms working with the Youth Futures schools. Our mentors have met some incredible kids and have had the opportunity to support them in working through their issues and figuring out their futures. We’re currently in discussions with Youth Futures about running future programs in 2019, and are excited to grow the relationship further.