In April 2017 I was thrilled to know that the next WFDYS board meeting would be held in my own country, Australia. The board flew in to attend and support the junior youth camp. All of the board was in attendance except for our outgoing secretary, Laith so I was delegated the task of taking minutes and notes. The role is a big one but I was willing to step up.
In our meeting we discussed how we could improve our communications through social media, a review of the year to date, and documentation of ideas towards the action plan of 2015 – 2019. We also had to begin planning for the next children’s camp in Argentina, 2018. Another large part of the discussion centred around fund raising to support WFDYS delegates from developing countries, who could not otherwise afford to attend the camp. We recognise that this type of event helps them to engage in discussion with others and then share information in their local communities. So we strongly encouraged participation in order for them to learn and gain the skills they need. We also presented reports from our board members who represented WFDYS at various events around the world.
We then worked with the Camp Organising Committee to ensure all plans and preparations were on track for the junior camp for children aged 13 – 17 years old. We checked off logistics, camp programming, and other details such as expectations of the camp.
The camp represented a really exciting time for Deaf youth in Australia. It provided a chance to many young people to travel to the land down under for the first time. The theme of the camp followed themes in the popular movie The Wizard of Oz and were apparent throughout the many workshops, presentations, fun and activities of team building, among others. The themes were courage, wisdom, passion and partnership. Juhana Salonen from Finland gave a talk on identity and how young people can actualise their own identity. Sonia Pivac from New Zealand spoke about thinking creatively and not allowing barriers to stop you. This linked to the theme of following one’s passion. Then Erika Jones from the UK talked about wisdom (use the same word in the sentence above re themes) and how one can develop this through work and volunteering experiences, and how this leads to confidence. We next heard from an American woman, Angela Nardolillio who spoke about Gracie Jiu Jitsu and how this technique can help to develop courage, independence and self-defence. The interlinking themes were really great.
We then had the Finnish president of the WFDYS, Cecilia Hankikoski and the WFD, president Colin Allen, talk about the future for Deaf youth around the world. Food for thought. In all, the presentations and activities really showcased the Australian style of doing things. By that I mean, we taught the kids how to play AFL and netball, cooked up an Australian BBQ and handed out Tim Tams to eat. The best thing though is seeing the kids grow. They arrived not knowing what to expect, they were a little nervous and anxious but by the end they were full of confidence. It was easy to see that some will become future leaders in their own countries. We divided the kids into groups and assigned them each an adult. Watching them relate well with their groups was also very rewarding. Aside from a few hiccups the camp was a very positive experience.
Finally, a huge vote of thanks goes out to our support crew. They generously donated their time and energy to the success of the camp. A special mention to the members of the organising committee who made the camp possible by obtaining grant funding, providing leadership and encouraging participation. It was a jewel in the crown for Deaf Youth Australia and the WFDYS viewed this as a hugely successful event.