News loop comes full circle for Addy editors

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IT’S comforting to know our future is in good hands.

Yesterday, a group of secondary students gathered at the Bendigo Bank under the leadership of Lead On development officer Stephanie Ash to talk about how they can better engage with their community through media.

The goal was to assess whether or not the Addy should reintroduce Loop, or a similar project, for young people to work on and call their own.

The Bendigo Advertiser partnered with Lead On several years ago to produce Loop, a youth journalism program for young people to learn skills in media and publishing by publishing a youth section of this newspaper.

Lead On Australia’s aim is to strengthen relationships between young people and their communities.

The non-profit organisation started in Bendigo in 1999, and since then more than 8500 young people have taken part in more than 1250 business and community based projects across the country.

Loop was one of them.

Loop opened the door to extraordinary opportunities for hundreds of central Victorian teens, many who have gone on to be successful in their chosen fields.

But ultimately, it’s what those young people made of the opportunity that led them to their goals.

They had the work ethic, drive, commitment and passion to succeed, and saw Loop as an opportunity to kick-start their careers.

And that was the message the Addy’s editor Rod Case and I shared with those young people yesterday.

Before them is the chance to make something their own, and it’s now up to them how they do that.

Rod hounded the Sunraysia Daily in Mildura for months on end because as a teenage boy he wanted desperately to be a journalist.

When he landed his first gig as a newsroom assistant while sitting his year 11 exams, Rod rode his pushbike 13km to and from work every day, such was his desire to be working at the paper.

Rod is now the editor of one of the country’s leading regional daily newspapers.

My story is similar, as I secured my cadetship with the Bendigo Advertiser midway through year 12.

I, too, had spent every school break and every other opportunity I could get writing stories for the paper.

That was 20 years ago, and it all started with the Addy “News Crew’’.

We were a group of secondary students from across the region invited to send stories in to the local paper.

It was an opportunity rarely offered – and one which opened many doors.

I’ve since worked at various newspapers, in television and radio, and returned to Bendigo to raise my family.

That was largely because this newspaper had the vision 20 years ago to engage with young people – and I grabbed that chance with both hands.

Together with Lead On, that is again our aim.

We want young people to feel connected to this newspaper, to this community and to go on and succeed in life.

We want them to feel heard, valued and confident to have their say.

And if yesterday’s forum, led beautifully by Ms Ash, also a contributor to Loop in years gone by, is an indication of the calibre of young people in our community, we have exciting times ahead.

We have now put it out there to that group of students that they have an opportunity to revitalise Loop, or bring it back in a new format.

If they want it to happen, it will.

We can’t wait to see what happens from here.

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