Youth of the Yarra Ranges awarded

The winners and honourable mentions who were in attendance for the Celebrating YOUth awards. Picture: SUZANNE PHOENIX

By Callum Ludwig

The youth of the Yarra Ranges were congratulated and commended for their achievements on Monday 4 December.

Yarra Ranges Council’s annual ‘Celebrating YOUth’ awards were held at the Civic Centre with winners and nominees aged 12-25 from across the region in attendance.

Jessica Course was the winner of the Young Entrepreneur award for her activewear business ‘Jessie Clair Active’ aimed at making activewear that is functional and age-appropriate for teens.

Jessica said she had always been interested in entrepreneurship and saw the need for activewear with both support and coverage where it’s needed.

“I’ve been fortunate to build an amazing community and that’s both online and in person and for the future, I hope to open a store,” she said.

“I’m currently stocked in two stores, both here in Melbourne and up in Queensland, but to have a store of my own would be a big goal.”

Over 200 attendees came along for the awards night, including the friends and families of award winners and honourable mentions.

Jacob Neil was a joint-winner of the Passionate Advocate award for his involvement in boards and groups like the Alannah Madeline Foundation and Project Rockit and said his biggest takeaway has been a greater appreciation, not just in talking to people, but for other’s experiences.

“Project Rockit was the company I did the most with, I did their IRL (In Real Life) and Intimate Imaged Unwrapped programs, both of which were more focused on relationships in an online space and with a big focus on having a young person explain their experience rather than being told by an older person what their experience was,” he said.

“I enjoyed the whole experience, you’d leave a few of the sessions feeling heavy, but like the communication and the talking, especially with these groups, everyone was chosen for different experiences and it was drastically different to anything I had thought of.”

Hannah Zinnack was the other recipient of the Passionate Advocate award for work with young carers, working with Eastern Health in both clinical and community spaces.

Hannah said she received for the work she had done in mental health over the last few years, especially the mental health of young people who are carers of people with mental health challenges.

“I’ve had the experience of growing up with my mum who had bipolar and my mental health issues as well, so I’ve been trying to bring awareness to young people who do care for a family member, especially around mental health because it’s an invisible thing that people don’t often see,” she said.

“Sometimes it’s terrifying to be able to speak about your experience as a young person because there is that power from people who are older, so having these spaces where kids can talk about it, it’s quite healing.”

Just shy of 50 nominations in total were received for the awards this year.

Ethan Prentice was the winner of the School or Community Improvement award for his work with Yarra Valley FM and promoting the local and Victorian music scene and he said he liked the idea of pointing out the local music scene having seen local gigs, met local musicians and been to different community music events.

“My show is on Tuesday night, from nine to midnight and is called Live to Ground and it’s for local people to listen to local music, it’s all Melbourne-based, or at least all Victoria-based, the furthest I’ve stretched the definition of Melbourne is some people from Geelong and some from Wangaratta,” he said.

“One of the big things moving forward that I want to do is to connect artists together, I love the idea of introducing bands like that come from Geelong, Ballarat or Wangaratta, to bands who are local to Healesville or here or even closer into the city, possibly people who they’ve never played a gig with.”

The musical theme of awards doesn’t end there, with local band Tudor Club, who have been recently touring and releasing new songs and music videos often, opening the night as well as a jazz performance from nominees Jerush and Yoshi and an acoustic performance from another local singer/songwriter Olivia Mae.

But taking out the Arts, Music and Culture award was young brother/sister hard rock/heavy metal duo Amber and Charlie Canning, who have been playing together for five years.

Amber said they were extremely grateful and pretty shocked when they heard they won because there were a lot of nominations.

“For me, I just love performing, particularly on big stages in front of heaps of people and hopefully one day we will have more festival gigs, we also just had our album release so we’re hoping to get another one out as well,” Amber said.

“We have busked, but I’m not a big fan of busking I’ve got to be honest, but I do like performing, there’s just something in it that makes it really fun,” Charlie said.

Willow Swaneveld was the winner of the Resilience and Perseverance Award but was unable to attend.

Honourable mentions were:

Bella O’Hara -Passionate Advocate Award,

Dakotah – Resilience & Perseverance,

Nikki Cormack – Young Entrepreneur,

Stephanie Scott – Arts, Music & Culture,

Chin Homework Club – School or Community Improvement.