Young adults rewarded for creative vision

BENDIGO residents Grace Warmuth and Aimee Staszkiewicz have been recognised for their ideas at yesterday’s Change It Up pitch meeting. 

The pair received $500 each to help kick-start their plans to make positive changes in the community. 

Change It Up is a joint initiative between the Foundation for Young Australians and ABC’s Heywire. 

Twenty-year-old Grace Warmuth was recognised for her idea to stop homophobic bullying in schools. 

Grace said both her parents were gay and because of that she was bullied for most of her schooling life. 

“From year 2 to year 8 I got bullied about it. I wasn’t allowed to go to friend’s houses and I even contemplated taking my own life,” she said. 

Grace said through Change It Up and her experiences at school she posed the question; why should the sexuality of my parents decide whether or not I am accepted into society?

In her pitch meeting she presented two ideas to help make a change. 

“First I would like to have a film festival in Bendigo, where people in the region can come together to show why homophobic bullying should stop,” Grace said. “My second idea was to get the rainbow flag to fly hand in hand with the Australian flag at all schools. 

“Instead of words and having a spiel about how we should be friends we have the flag – it’s simple,” she said.

Seventeen-year-old winner Aimee Staszkiewicz said she was passionate about getting young people working in the community. 

“There is a lot of things happening in Bendigo that not many people know about,” she said. 

“So my question was: how do we get teens off the couch and into the community?”

Aimee said she wanted to give Bendigo youth the chance to have a voice in the community.

Bendigo man Luke Owens was also chosen as one of the top 50 people in Australia to take part in the Young and Extraordinary workshop later this month.

Luke is currently trying to raise $100,000 for the organisation, Bendigo for Homeless Youth. 

He said he was overwhelmed with the honour. “I am just doing what I can,” Luke said. 

“It is a great opportunity to have a bigger platform and speak with like-minded individuals.” 

● Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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