Last December, the My Vision Youth Program hosted a group of 70 clients on a beach day.

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Sheikh Mohamed

At this event, our clients had the opportunity to learn how to be safe at the beach with the help of Surf Life Saving Queensland. Surf Life Saving is Australia’s peak coastal water safety, drowning prevention and rescue authority. For more information about Surf Life Saving and what they do, visit their website here.

Sharing more about this fantastic day out, we took time to chat with Butrus Haider, a Youth Engagement Officer, and Ahmad Hosseini, Youth Engagement Worker with Multicultural Australia.

Tell us a little bit about the My Youth Vision Program?

The My Vision Youth Program (MYVP) works with young migrants and refugees from all backgrounds, supporting them in transitioning into the country.

We work with groups of age 15 to 25. A lot of the young people that we work with have been in the country for less than five years.

We aim to provide a range of programs to support our youth in ensuring they develop confidence and safety in their community. It is a great program to be a part of.

How does your team support and welcome newly arrived people in Queensland?

We have a group of youth workers for this purpose. Some of our colleagues, are well established in the community, and they invite young people to our programs or activities.

Many clients in the MYVP program come from diverse backgrounds with English as a second language.

In many cases, speaking the same language spoken by the client makes the transition smoother. We also have about six youth workers who have strong knowledge about sports, training, education, and employment.

We are here to be a source of assistance, community, and fun.

Tell us a little more about the Beach Day that took place recently, and your experience…

Butrus –The beach activity was very, very successful. We had about 70 young people come along to the day. Some of our clients who attended had visited the beach before, but for many of them, this excursion was their first encounter with the beach ever.

It was a great day for the young people to enjoy an outdoor activity.

All of them have different backgrounds, so they had the opportunity to connect with each other, build relationships, and forge friendships.

It was an awesome opportunity to try new activities at the beach because, as we know, Australia is surrounded by water. I think learning more about beach culture and understanding more about beach safety was an absolute highlight of the day.

I think in general our clients who came along to the day were very pleased with the process and the way it was handled. They now feel more confident about beach safety, and they can share the knowledge they learned with their family and friends.

Butrus – Another interesting thing to share is that some of the clients who attended the activity didn’t know what beachwear was. They didn’t come dressed for the occasion, but, were brave enough to jump in the water because they were super excited about the opportunity. Some of the clients who attended to the activity said that they had only seen beaches in movies or magazines.

At the end of the day, they were commenting on what to wear if they go to the beach again.

For example, before this day some of them had no idea about wearing beach shorts.

Ahmad – there was one young person that brought an extra pair of shorts in case someone needed them. He knew that some of the clients were coming to the beach for the first time wouldn’t know what to wear. That’s extraordinary.

Why is this type of activity important to develop a sense of belonging in your clients?

Butrus – It’s important our youth clients to understand how to be safe at the beach, but to also have fun.

From the beach safety side of things because they now live in Australia, with the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coasts within a short distance of where they have settled, it is part of their local culture they can now be a part of.

As a result of beach day events such as this, some of them can now go to the beach and enjoy it, because they know what to do when in order to be safe.

They develop a sense of belonging when they go to an environment where they feel comfortable, safe, and part of the community.

Ahmad – It’s also important for young people to engage in these activities because, for example, if they’re in school or in any other setting, they are always with the people that they already know.

This sort of activity provides a great opportunity for our clients to meet new people, experience other cultures, and mix with other Australians.

Butrus – One of the young people said, “When I go back to school, I’ve got a story to share about what I did during the holidays.”

This type of experience increases their sense of belonging because they can relate with people from diverse backgrounds and have a story to share other people in their community. It is a great way to bring people from everywhere together.

Some of our clients loved the location and asked us for the address.

They said that they wanted to go to that place again with their families so they can also enjoy that beautiful beach.

Other clients felt more confident about how to swim, how to enjoy the beach responsibly, and even help someone who is in danger in the water.

Ahmad – one of the most popular questions that popped up on that day was “When are we going to do this again?”

Are you planning a new outdoor activity for this year?

Yes, we’re very flexible and creative in terms of the activities we facilitate for our young people.

I would like them to try surfing next time. We’re very open to new ideas and like to hear what young people want to do so we can make them reality for our next activity.

Surfing might be next on the list.