Over the years, I have worked with youth in many and varied roles. I assisted in the commencement of the Brisbane Youth Service, finding employment and housing for youth on the street; have been Manager of a Community Care program in the Western Suburbs of Melbourne, operating a Drug Arm Van with over 60 volunteers aging from 18 to 75 where we would go out onto the streets every Friday and Saturday night offering free tea and coffee, and a listening ear to youth on the streets and from that, I commenced a new initiative for drug detoxification for young people on heroin, which saw a 98% success rate. I then travelled to six countries looking at best practice youth rehabilitation programs but was not satisfied with the highest success rate of non-return to addictive substances being 35%.
In later years, I undertook a teaching degree and taught English in the largest Refugee Camp on the Thai-Burma Border where I was eventually appointed School Manager and most recently, I was involved in trialing a music venture for rural youth in Wodonga and it was in these two places, that I learned about the importance of allowing youth their culture and voice, when working with them.
One of the most important responsibilities that I have learned from TCI is to know your ‘avatar’, your ideal client. My dream is to establish a drug rehabilitation program, initially for young people and then to branch off for parents and children of drug addicted parents. Drug addiction is now more fatal with the ice epidemic and the use of poisonous chemicals for its production. I have therefore taken up the role of chaplaincy in State Schools to learn about my avatar: what they eat drink, like in music, wear, what their thought patterns are, what their stages of learning and growth patterns are that they are experiencing, and how coaching can sit alongside my pastoral care skills in such a way that I can empower them to be transformed to be the best that they can be.
I have called my business, Shalom Centre of Life, because ‘Shalom’ in its truest Hebrew meaning, means wholeness in every respect of our life, internal and external. I mainly use the Wheel of Life and G.R.O.W. model to show a person, even the youth, where they are aiming for or going if they continue on their current path and then coach them in ways for a brighter life and a truer self, congruent to their needs of transformation and goals.
I have had many significant “aha” moments in my training with TCI, two of which come to mind. Firstly, I was crewing for Joe Pane at an Advanced Skills Training Session and he said some words at the beginning of the course that came from someone else but they changed my life, ‘I don’t love you because of what you can do for me, I don’t love you for what I can do for you, I love you because you exist’. These words empowered me because they gave me the language to express and give unconditional love to everyone, no matter who, no matter what.
The second was at the Your Success weekend, when I had opened up about a very personal experience I had as a child and I still remember Sharon Pearson’s eyes as she said to me, “You know that that shouldn’t have happened to you. It is not your fault”. Something in her voice and tonality caused me to finally believe those words and the meaning they gave me. I was finally free from the past and it’s false guilt. It is a journey I walk every day. My past is now not my significance, nor is it not my identity. It is my past, and my past does not equal my destiny.
My greatest successes and joys comes from young people being transformed through the coaching skills that TCI have provided me. Three examples come to mind from schools where I have worked as a coach. Firstly, an 11-year-old girl worked through the G.R.O.W. model to achieve an outcome she never thought possible. I have heard from her school recently that she actually achieved her goal. I am bursting with pride for her. It was a difficult, personally intimate goal, which involved negotiating with her parents, the school, included monetary issues and she achieved it all - at 11 years old. In that same school, there was a 9-year-old boy who had difficult behavior patterns around physical abuse and I took him through the G.R.O.W. model with an outstanding result. He used that model to work out who he had to become to do what he wanted to do when he got older and as a result of working through it diligently, he worked out for himself, he had to change his behaviours or he risked being killed. He then went on to work out what subjects he had to work on to get where he really wanted to go.
The final success story comes when a young 14-year-old boy wanted to commit suicide. I was able to ascertain through the 3 universal fears - am I loved, am I good enough, do I belong - that his belief system about himself did not nurture, challenge or serve him so I coached him to redesign his belief system and when he wrote out his new ones, he put the list in his wallet and when he was spoken ill of at school, he would take out his list and read them, knowing that what was said wasn’t true but that his list was true. That boy changed from looking like a severely repressed boy to ‘a young man smiling’ every time I saw him in the school yard.
I cannot thank TCI enough. I have enjoyed being a Student, my life has been transformed and now I am offering that transformation for others.