Hills District Independent JUNE 2017 #24 - Page 12

local life MAKE A DIFFERENCE: by Lorna Gordon The Hills Youth Army was set up in 2014 for young people between the ages of 12 and 24 to encourage them to get involved in their community by making their voices heard with our local council. Many people have a view of volunteering as standing about at events handing out leaflets, but Lauren Fearnly, who is the Hills Shire Council Volunteer Co-ordinator, is trying to change that perception. “Volunteering is giving up your time for a cause, and when volunteering for Council it can be taking the time to sit with us and share ideas of what you would like to see addressed for young people in our area,” Lauren says. “It’s not all paper drops!” Lauren explained to me that this year there are two Youth Ambassadors and five youth leaders who all have a passion for different areas like sport or culture. These young people encourage others to take part in events and make their voices heard in the community. “A lot of our volunteers come because friends are doing it, it helps their friendship grow and they tend to look at it as thing they do with mates,” Lauren told me when I asked about how young people benefit from volunteering. “Some volunteers come on their own and build friendships during the events.” “We find it builds the volunteers confidence and relationships and gives a preparation for the future in the The Envy Now open Hills Youth Army community which they might not have had before.” She also added that parents are happy to let their children attend the meet ups at council as they feel they will be in a safe environment and are gaining skills and experience while creating a positive influence in their own lives and the lives of others. As well as joining in on events like the Orange Blossom Festival, Sydney Country Music Festival, Hills Relay for Life and National Tree Planting Day, the Hills Youth Army jumps at the chance of having their say in our community volunteers also get to have fun in other ways. Recently a difference to your community and they had a basketball game with Emerton joining the Hills Youth Army, there will be Youth Recreation Centre and had a a workshop happening in July where you bowling night to help cement friendships can get to have your say about what youth as a thank you to the volunte