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Campers find courage

“I learned how to be brave”.

A group of young people walking together outsideThey’re the words of one of the participants of a recent five day leadership camp for young Tasmanians with links to Anglicare’s Taz Kids program.

Throughout the year, Anglicare conducts Taz Kids clubs at schools for children aged 7-17 who have a parent or guardian with a mental illness. Taz Kids provides opportunities for young people to take part in fun activities, learn new skills and get answers to difficult questions.

The Building Resilient Leaders camp for teens featured adventure activities such as rock-climbing and a giant swing, as well as education sessions about self-care and communication.

“This statewide camp was such a powerful experience for this group of young people from our Taz Kids community,” said Anglicare worker Glenn O’Neill. “This was an opportunity for the teenagers to create their own peer group and talk about their experiences. During the time together, they moved past much of their anger and disengagement and came together as a cohesive team. It was a hugely therapeutic process”.

Karen* said the camp had pushed her to try new things. “I went all the way up the rock wall,” she said. “It was scary. I’d never done it before but I climbed to the top”.

“I also wanted to make new friends there and I did,” she said.

The camp participants heard from a guest speaker who shared her experiences of homelessness and incarceration. “Most importantly she spoke about dealing with anger,” said Glenn. “She gave an insight into how powerful it can be to tell your own story and those at the camp were given an opportunity to do this through drawing and public speaking”.

“Some of these young people are finding ways to move past horrific and violent things they’ve seen and experienced,” he said. “They were looking for the courage to start a journey where they can heal from trauma. This camp was a powerful experience for everyone involved”.

Taz Kids holds regular workshops for parents, in addition to school clubs and camps throughout the year.

*not her real name (to protect identity)