Youth Week 2021: Students take charge and look to sporting improvements

Nepean Creative and Performing Arts High School SALSA Peer Leaders and Coordinator.

Painted handball and volleyball courts, water refilling stations and sporting grounds with artificial turf are all ideas students from select western Sydney high schools recently brought to the table.

These recreational improvements are part of an action plan coordinated by the Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) Students As LifeStyle Activists (SALSA) program and schools across western Sydney.

Overcoming the ongoing challenges of COVID-19 and flooding events, student leaders from SALSA Youth Voices recently gathered together at Rooty Hill High School to deliver their School Action Plans.

Rooty Hill High School Principal Christine Cawsey addresses students.

The SALSA program, led by WSLHD’s Prevention Education Research Unit (PERU) director Associate Professor Smita Shah, aims to motivate students to increase physical activity and improve their diets.

Associate Professor Smita Shah said leadership in schools works because students listen to their peers.

“The schools will have these sporting improvements in action by the end of this year and early next year,” A/Prof Shah said.

“It’s important for students to have a voice as a driving factor for change in their communities.”

“I’d like to acknowledge the NSW Australian Medical Association who provided a delicious COVID-19 safe lunch for all at the event.”

SALSA philanthropist Daniel McAlary, Chifley College Mount Druitt Deputy Principal Zoe Van-Stolk, WSLHD Director of Research Professor Mark McLean and WSLHD PERU Director Associate Professor Smita Shah.

To recognise the outstanding student contributions, all participating schools were awarded trophies by Professor Mark McLean, director of research at WSLHD.

WSLHD deputy board chair Loretta Di Mento was delighted to see a number of former students and staff return to be SALSA program leaders.

“It’s clear that strong community ties are being established by the SALSA program,” Loretta said.

WSLHD Deputy Board Chair Loretta Di Mento, Chifley College Mount Druitt Deputy Principal Zoe Van-Stolk, NSW Australian Medical Association Dr Ralf Itzwerth and Dr Kean-Seng Lim, WSLHD PERU Director Associate Professor Smita Shah, SALSA philanthropist Daniel McAlary and Fay Karpouzis.

Brenda Quayle, principal of Erskine Park High School, emphasised the importance of the day saying, “We are so grateful for our involvement in SALSA Youth Voices, which provides great opportunities for our students to advocate for healthy lifestyle choices.”

April 16-24 marks NSW Youth Week – an opportunity for young people to express their ideas and views, act on issues that affect their lives, and create and enjoy activities and events.

Youth Week activities and events in the western Sydney area include:

  • 16 April 10am- 3pm – Youth Fest 21 Bball Competition – Basketball competition 5 V 5 at PCYC Blacktown, 30 Second Ave, Blacktown
  • 16-18 April 6.30pm-10.30pm – BYSA Outdoor Cinema family night featuring Scoob at Workers Sports 170 Reservoir Road, Blacktown
  • 20 April 2pm – Mount Druitt Bock Party – Basketball, DJ, music, free BBQ and live performances at Dawson Mall, Mount Druitt
  • 21 April 3pm-5pm – Youth Story Expo – Showcasing youth talent topics on intergenerational relationships and experiences of young people from refugee backgrounds at The Granville Centre, 1 Memorial Drive, Granville.
  • 21 April 3pm-6pm – Emerging Civic Leaders Forum – a six-week program targeting 18-24 year olds from the Parramatta LGA.
  • 22 April 4pm-8pm – Youth Week Festival – Live performances and fun activities at Auburn Centre for Community, 44A Macquarie Road, Auburn.
  • 29 April 4pm-6pm – SweatShop Literacy and Art – for young people to engage and learn to a literacy artists, followed by a mural art workshop at Dundas Area Neighbourhood Centre.

For more information about WSLHD’s SALSA program, click here.