As an alternative to their showcase conclusion, the Club Mudgee Max Potential celebration for 2020 was held online and recognised the unique challenges faced in the local program's 14th year.
Fourteen students from Kandos, Gulgong, and Mudgee high schools and St Matthew's and 14 community coaches took part in the 22-week youth leadership and development journey. Which moved online just after everyone was introduced.
In congratulating the participants, program associate coach Kirsten Barnett Brown acknowledged the extra challenges that were overcome this year, and said, "It's been a really wild ride - and we're still in the midst of it all, adjusting daily to the challenges these times are requiring of us". And added that for Max Potential, this affected the Community Service Project aspect, however they took to the Plan B with enthusiasm.
"Usually at this time we would be meeting in person at Club Mudgee for our typical expo-style showcase event. It's unfortunate that we cannot be there today, but on the other hand we're so very lucky that we have technology on our side and that we can gather online to recognise the journey that our young adults and their coaches have been on this year," she said.
"With face-to-face volunteering no longer an option, each of you channeled your passion and entrepreneurial thinking into a Community Service Pitch focused on how to rebuild communities in Australia after COVID-19. And today it's been an absolute pleasure and treat watching inspiring pitch films that each of you have created."
Ethan Blamire's CSP, was featured in the formal celebration, the video pitch to health businesses aimed to help locals reap the mental health benefits of exercise and movement.
Bruce Roberts - who did a second year with the program given because of how much he enjoyed his 2019 experience - provided the coaches' perspective, to "acknowledge the wonderful achievements of these fabulous young people". And also urged them to continue to use what they've learnt.
"You've taken on the Max Potential program, which is not something that finishes today - it's something that is life-changing and will be of benefit to you for the rest of your life if you choose to do so," he said.
"I would say to you, aim high, set your goals high. But you'll need a little bit of assistance along the way and one good way to set your goals high and achieve them, is to utilise good principles - and you couldn't use a better set of principles than the ones you've learnt through Max Potential."
The coaches - who receive training that can be applied to their professional lives - volunteer their time to help guide the students along the journey. In providing young adults' perspective, Patrick Butlin thanked them and said his own coach James, "helped boost my confidence and encouraged me to want to succeed in this program and in life as a whole".
"I'd like to say - what I imagine every single young adult is thinking - 'thank you to all of our coaches', because without them none of this was possible," he said.
Keynote speaker, Andrew Gee MP, said he was encouraged "to see and hear of the wonderful ideas that our young people are working on".
"The great thing about Max Potential is that it helps to foster our community leaders of tomorrow. And if we've seen one thing through COVID, what has really brought our area through - even though we're not out of the woods yet - is community," he said.
"And when the chips are really down - which we saw through the bushfires too - it's the communities that really get us through. That's why Max Potential is so important, because it's bringing on the next generation of community leaders."
Prior to the celebration, the group had their final workshop during which the students heard from Ned Dickson, the Mid-Western Region's Young Citizen of the Year. Who told them for success, "drive, persistence, and the acknowledgement of your own principles are essential".
"Although this may be a helpful guideline, it's likely obvious to you all - because you've already demonstrated your competence in formulating and achieving goals. Your personal drive and persistence is evident and I highly commend you on your achievements, your clear 'get up and go' attitude is exemplary," he said.
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