Be Inspired conference enthuses audience

15 Feb 2017

CC BeInspired web front

18 November, 2016

The OBT was filled to capacity with 180 keen and eager Year 7s from intermediate and full primary schools around Christchurch who were challenged to think about leadership, team work and how they could make a difference to the lives of others.

Be Inspired, a half-day leadership conference organised by Darrell Thatcher and hosted by College, offered students who may be taking leaderships roles in their schools next year, the chance to contemplate exactly what makes a good leader. The main theme was about volunteering and how doing so could not only benefit other people, but be a fun, rewarding thing.

First up was Sam Johnson who organised the original Student Volunteer Army in response to the Canterbury earthquakes. He was chosen as Young New Zealander of the Year in 2012 for his work in mobilising 11,000 Canterbury young people to help in the clean-up in the aftermath of the devastation. Sam was quick to point out that while volunteering involves doing rather than talking, successful programmes do require a vision, planning, promotion, doing and then reviewing.

“To build a team, you need all five stages and, as each requires different skills, you need to have people in each category to really make it work,’’ he says. “However volunteering doesn’t have to be on a grand scale such as the Student Volunteer Army. It can be just doing something that makes a difference to the life of someone else.

“It’s really about working out what you want to do, how you can make this happen and who can get to help you make it happen.’’

After Sam’s call to action for the students to take part in Serve for New Zealand, where people commit to at least one hour’s voluntary work each Anzac Day, the students divided into groups for two workshops.

These looked at different aspects of leadership and voluntary work, getting the students to interact in teams, to collaborate on different tasks and to explore concepts of what makes an effective leader. One popular workshop was a team effort to devise a way to drop an egg from a height of five metres without breaking it. The Student Volunteer Army spokesperson gave students the opportunity to think of ways that they could volunteer and how, as school leaders, they could set things up at their school to make a difference in the lives of others.

Organiser Darrell Thatcher says that while leadership happens at all ages, Year 7s were a good group to focus on as they were moving into leadership roles in their schools and had probably not thought much about what makes a good leader. As potential leaders, they were also in a good position to think about ways of encouraging their school to volunteer and find ways to help out in the community.

Chisnallwood Intermediate deputy principals Todd Blake and Iva Hamilton were enthusiastic about the conference.

“It’ s a great opportunity for our young students in all sorts of ways, especially having the chance to interact with those from other schools and to work collaboratively with them. College has organised a great programme to challenge our prospective young leaders and we appreciate being invited and at no cost to our school.’’

Year 7 student Guy Greening from The Cathedral Grammar School says “It was an incredible experience for me and my class talking with and listening to inspirational leaders, then having the opportunity to try things for ourselves.’’

Cobham Intermediate student Bruno Vaughan says “It was a great opportunity to meet heaps of other kids to learn about leadership and what we can actually do to help others, even if it is in a small way. The presenters motivated us to think not just about how we can earn money but how we can take time to do things to help others.’’