Opinion: Real Futures Foundation celebrates with alumni dinner

The youth of Port Stephens were last week celebrated at the inaugural alumni dinner held by the Real Futures Foundation at The Deck, Soldiers Point.

The event provided an opportunity for the community to engage with some of the students, both past and present, and share the journeys which they have experienced through the work of the foundation.

Real Futures was established to assist secondary school students in Port Stephens in reaching their full potential through job preparedness, motivation and skill development.

The dinner was a celebration of the panel beaters, the fishermen, the childcare workers and the hairdressers who are all following their chosen career paths.

Alumni Rhiannon Harrison spoke about her time at school and her successes in her career that have far outshone her expectations.

She spoke of how the programs offered by Real Futures had made a difference to her, and the realisation that she had someone to believe in her. Rhiannon now runs a successful hairdressing business.

Alumni Alannah Newell, a past Soldiers Point Marina Scholarship recipient, spoke about her university studies and her dreams of becoming a law enforcement officer.

Newell is thinking big and wants to make a difference in indigenous communities through her work in the future.

Port Stephens mayor Ryan Palmer, who attended the event, said that is was wonderful to hear from program participants and seeing the youth of the region deliver a wonderful event.

This year Real Futures Foundation has inspired 1050 students to think about their futures; offered training and programs resulting in 1026 opportunities being presented to Port Stephens youth; and collaborated with industry and teachers to create lesson plans and teaching tools.

The foundation has provided access to inquiry-based learning; created an environment where employers and the community can bring real problems to young people in schools to solve; and worked with our local communities to shift their understanding of the value of education in a changing economy.

The Real Futures Foundation is creating a place where the youth of Port Stephens can grow into leadership roles and have the ability to advocate for themselves and their causes.