Breaking through barriers at the South West Young Achievers' Program

Imagine spending three days with 21 people you do not know but who will eventually see all your strengths and weaknesses.

This is what I just experienced as part of the South West Young Achievers’ Program.

I remember when I was first nominated for the program and I thought “Yeh this sounds alright” and that was the extent of it.

It was not until the first day that I realised my outlook on life would change.

Our first day we learnt about how to communicate with people we don’t know, which was very fitting seeing as though we were all strangers.

I really enjoyed Rob Hill from Australind Vets talking about mindsets.

He said that the best way to be successful was to know how to deal with the bad things that happen in life.

When something goes wrong, don’t blame the world but find a solution instead.

The second day was just as full on as the first with talks about values, time management and teamwork.

Oh and how can I forget the public speaking workshops with Toastmaster member Jim Stephen.

This was my biggest challenge for the program and while I think I will always hate public speaking I definitely gained some wisdom from the workshops.

My favourite part of the public speaking session was watching participant Josh.

Josh is visually impaired from a rare disease which only impacts one in 200,000 people.

I felt truly humbled by his story on receiving a bone marrow transplant which has kept him alive.

The second day ended on the biggest high possible with Justin Warren from Bunbury Martial Arts teaching us about how to break barriers.

I was so engrossed by his story of success and what it took to get there.

His dedication and discipline to the sport allowed him to defeat Australia’s champion with a broken foot.

However the empowerment did not end there.

Justin challenged us all to break a wooden board with our hand.

I cannot describe how amazing this feeling was- despite having my hand tingle for an hour or so afterwards.

Again Josh was the highlight of this moment showing us that he can do anything.

Even though we were all exhausted on the last day we managed to get excited about our first workshop on financial management.

Now, I went into this one thinking I would be bored out my brain and everything would go over my head.

While some things did go over my head I learnt that wanting and earning money does not mean you are a greedy person.

Our program ended with a gala night at the Lighthouse Beach Resort with guest speaker Akram Azimi.

Akram was last year’s young Australian of the year and was great to listen to.

He was an Afghanistan refugee who has made a better life for himself and his family.

He is now working on Rotary’s End Polio Now campaign.

Listening to him was a great way to sum up our experience in the program because he was just another example of how to take advantage of life.

Well done to Rotary and South West Development Commission for organising the program and making it a success.

South West Young Achievers' Program participants with program coordinator Leanne O'Shea.

South West Young Achievers' Program participants with program coordinator Leanne O'Shea.