Target ages and area
RiverTracks works with young boys and girls across the Tweed Valley aged 12 and above. The young people at risk are be defined as having high levels of school truancy, suspensions or expulsions, having past or present criminal charges, drug usage problems and or other serious life challenges that are making engagement in education very difficult. By starting with a focus on this cohort, we will be able to build our organisational capacity to expand steadily to provide opportunities to both genders, a broader age range and to other young people across the whole Tweed Shire region.
Program model and attributes
RiverTracks runs on weekdays during school terms and focuses on developing work skills, building relationships with and engaging at-risk young people. We work with young people to explore their interests and by creating pathways to develop practical skills in these interest areas with them.
The program offers opportunities for young people to explore different interest and skill set areas by partnering with existing organisations that are able to offer training programs that equip the young people with credentials and skills that build their employability. We want to note that as we develop as an organisation we will endeavour to establish a design that supports accredited flexible learning that helps young people work towards their Record of School Achievement but must acknowledge that we will not have the capacity to include this in our initial activities.
By working with local landholders to create mutually beneficial exchanges, doing sessions with dog trainers, going on regular weekend activities and inviting guests in to run activities we co-create a safe, supportive and inclusive community with young people that provides belonging, life skills and work pathways.
Essential Program Elements
- We will ensure we effectively assess the needs and goals of young people we work with and educate them about their rights and responsibilities with us.
- We provide targeted support for everyone involved in our program.
- We are committed to ongoing program evaluation and improvement processes.
- We run a daily muster check-in circle to start and end each day.
- We are committed to running an accessible and holistic program.
- We empower young people to support one another by creating a culture of peer support.
- We always endeavour to assist participants in meeting their essential needs.
- We bring animal and nature connection opportunities into our programs.
- We support and facilitate connection with the broader community in our programs.
- Program participation is not time-limited.
- Above all, we will focus on having a rewarding, joyful and engaging time together with young people involved.
Youth and Community Outcomes
Our program brings together diverse skills development opportunities, program and staff consistency and a supportive community to seek to meet some of the unmet needs of young people at risk in our region. By working in this way we lead the way in creating a new ethic in the way our community and culture relates to and supports young people at risk.
By walking alongside and supporting these young people we believe we will see them develop into mature human beings, as they become accountable for their actions, set and achieve goals, follow their passions and become active and responsible members of our community. Importantly our program will work with the healing power of interacting with animals, witnessing the silence and surrender of immersions in nature and help to build skills and confidence in participants that will take their life forward.
Our program complements existing initiatives that help create a more connected, supportive and safer community for everyone. It achieves this by intervening in the cycles of neglect, trauma, harm and hardship that many people in our community have experienced in their family for generations. Unless the young people in these circumstances are supported to break these cycles and feel the embrace of a community that really cares about them, the challenges they face will continue to create challenges for the broader community.