- Inaugural recipient of the Rise Up Regional Award creates leaving care event for young people in the South-West
A young Bunbury man’s proposal to assist young people leaving care in the South-West region has become a reality, thanks to financial support from the Rise Up Regional Award.
Leighton Smith, 19, was the inaugural recipient of the Rise Up Regional Award earlier this year, which is an initiative of the Department of Communities Achiever Awards.
Sponsored by the Foster Care Association of WA, the Rise Up Regional Award assists one regional Achiever Award recipient to develop a strategy, activity or solution to benefit young people leaving care to feel part of their community.
The funds attached to the award have been used to plan and host an event today in Bunbury to give young people with a care experience information about pathways to independence, in a fun environment with live music and other activities.
Today’s event aims to build the confidence of young people in the South-West who are moving towards independence, and highlights that they are not alone in their experiences.
The event included the unveiling of a plaque and concrete pad in Cobblestone Park marked with handprints, to represent agencies and the community working together with young people and their families to have a positive impact on a young person’s future.
Leighton was one of 32 young people whose achievements were celebrated at the 2018 Achiever Awards in March. He is pursuing a concreting apprenticeship and used his trade skills to create this permanent tribute to the local young people with a care experience.
As noted by Child Protection Minister Simone McGurk:
“Young people leaving care need additional support to help them successfully transition into independent living.
“Leighton’s idea to bring young people together to provide them with information about leaving care, as part of a fun event, is a fantastic idea.
“It is important to recognise that young people preparing to leave care have a range of challenges.
“The Rise Up Regional Award provides a great opportunity for young people to think about their own experiences and come together to meaningfully help other young people.”