A special educational program has reignited a link between disengaged students, education and success.
The Links to Learning program has inspired new enthusiasm in young people struggling with traditional edcuation.
The achievements of these newly-enthused youth was celebrated at an awards ceremony on July 5 at the Highlands Youth Centre.
Funded by the Department of Education, the Links to Learning program is held in conjunction with partner institutions, Bowral and Moss Vale High Schools.
It provides the tools and offers alternative opportunities for young people that have dis-engaged with the schooling system.
Bowral’s Youth Hub is where the program and its services take place.
Highlands Community Centre president Richard Krohn has sung the praises of the program.
“It’s [Youth Hub] a place to come where they feel comfortable,” he said.
“Indoor games, outdoor recreations and Wi-Fi are accessible to the kids.”
A reoccurring theme highlighted during the presentation was the warm, welcoming and motivating environment of the Hub.
It was evident in the behaviour and attitudes of the students throughout the awards ceremony with the young people applauding and offering words of encouragement to peers.
Southern Highlands Youth Services manager Suzi Kenney said there was such a positive vibe when she walked through the door for the celebration.
“The Hub provides a social safe space that sees students come back,” she said.
“I applaud their courage and willingness in taking these positive steps.”
The Highlands Youth Centre has been the driving force behind initiatives for local youth and family intervention programs for more than 30 years.
Jason Cikos who runs the Links to Learning initiative explains “we take a holistic approach looking at all the factors, challenges and barriers they have and work with students to overcome them.”
As part of the program, after school drop in provides a free tutoring service that is aimed at those who might not otherwise have access. Retired school teachers volunteer every Wednesday and Thursday, tailoring sessions to each student’s individual needs.
Free and confidential counselling is made available by St Vincent De Paul.
Opportunities for employment are also arranged with local employers in industries such as hospitality, aged care and construction.
Cikos spoke highly of the young achievers. “Honestly speaking all are standouts, they have come such a long way,” he said.