Regional Highlight

Young leaders are changing the game

Although she doesn’t think of herself as a leader, at 22 years old Abbey Richards is already running a successful business in Renmark and is gaining a reputation for her community work. Since taking part in RDA Murraylands and Riverland’s youth leadership program Game Changer, Abbey is finding new ways to spread positive messages.

Game Changer was created to help tackle the vexed issue of young people heading to the city to pursue education and employment, leaving a void of ready young leaders in the region.

With an aim to address this gap, RDA Murraylands and Riverland partnered with Employers Mutual Liability Insurance, TAFE SA, SANFL and local football and netball clubs.

Twelve participants were nominated by their sport club. They took part in a Youth Leadership and Resilience course at TAFE Berri Campus one day a month, then Jake Edwards provided inspiring group leadership sessions.

The model has proved so successful that the SANFL has adopted it for all its Adelaide-based leagues. A second regional program is also in the works.

Abbey was nominated to take part by the Renmark Netball Club, because she is seen by younger players as a role model.

“I’m always looking for ideas of where I can help out, whether it’s holding a free community Christmas event, or pulling over when I see that someone needs a lift.”

Headspace approached her recently to run free boxing sessions for younger boys. Says Abbey, “sometimes people need an escape from everyday life. A little getaway every now and then can be very good for their mental health.”

During Game Changer, Abbey realised that being in a leadership role means that people rely on you to always perform at your best, and that “everyone walking through that door is looking up to you for advice and direction.”

Being in the fitness industry, Abbey sees that one area she can influence is in combating the negative aspects of social media, including through a planned online platform.

“I see a lot of images on social media that are unrealistic. I want the younger generation to know their looks are not the number one priority – there’s more out there than that,” says Abbey.

“Be happy and be kind – that’s my message.”

Follow Abzsolute Fitness on Facebook @abzsoluteftnessandtraining

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“[The program] gave us enough background to know where to channel our efforts and find out if export is the right thing for us.”

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