Hero Stories

A Sport Ambassadors Program turns shy students into confident leaders

Over three sessions in August a group of Sports Ambassadors at Wellington Secondary College were joined by a trio of vibrant leaders who guided the students to improve their leadership, confidence and community involvement. This three day program was the first in a three step program, and culminated in students becoming involved in their own community sports event.

Tom Henderson, Ananth Gopal and Michelle Nussey from the youth focused leadership organisation Polykala, joined the students in a range of inclusive and mindful activities. The activities mostly focused on physical movement and harnessing the students’ energy to overcome barriers in confidence and participation. Most of the games were based upon team sports and encouraged an atmosphere of participation where students had to concentrate and rely on one another.

Ananth, co-founder of Polykala, said the program was based around adaptive leadership. Students were asked to identify the things that held them back, pinpoint the insecurity and find a mechanism to improve upon it. Sport and games provided a great way for students to begin this process. Specific public speaking techniques such as breath monitoring and posture were also discussed.

The sessions culminated in each student preparing a short piece to perform in front of their fellow classmates. The story topics varied greatly with students showing a high degree of autonomy and creativity. This task was a precursor to the students’ Graduation Evening which was held at the City of Monash. Students delivered a speech on a topic of their choice in front of their friends and family - something they thought was unachievable. 

By practicing and building on their leadership skills, students were then encouraged to get involved in their local communities. In previous years students have created a team to compete in 'Relay For Life' to raise money for charity.

When asked what they had learnt from the program, many students expressed joy at being able to do things they previously thought were unachievable, like standing in front of an audience to deliver a speech. They also spoke of how much fun they had of discovering their own abilities and that of others in the group.
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Special thanks to City of Monash and the ‘Let’s All Play’ program