"I was only in Year 8 year 9, I saw they had free hot chocolate on the freezing days and I thought ‘yeh I’ll go in for that.’"
The Lake Haven Breakfast Program on the NSW Central Coast served up about 8,000 brekkies every year.
It was a welcome break for Jourdan and before long he was also giving the centre’s Streetgym program a go.
"It’s been a massive part for me. It helped me really see where I belong if that makes sense," said Jourdan.
"Makes you feel a bit more free and happy."
Trailblazing Youth and Programs Coordinator Gin Walshaw introduced Jourdan to the Y NSW programs.
"She was really fun, it was good meeting her. She definitely draws you in, she’s got such a bubbly personality and so much fun," he said.
"She brought up the Streetgym to me and I thought ‘why not it’s better than staying at home.’"
Jourdan quickly became a regular at Streetgym, grew in confidence and began helping out other group members doing it tough.
"There’s always a positive out of a negative. There’s no point living all in the negative when there’s always going to be a positive come up that’s going to change the whole negative.
"I always think why not share things that I have done and things that have helped me progress," Jourdan said.
And that’s the nub of it for Jourdan. He knows that there will be light at the end of every tunnel; that despite how dark things can get for young people, he knows tomorrow or the next day will bring light, hope and a laugh.
And to achieve that, he knows in his gut, that the Y is where he can connect with other young people.
"I feel like I was able let go of a lot of anxiety and fears of things because I was able to go there and have fun and have such good connections with a lot of the people from the Y, really amazing people," Jourdan said.
It was a milestone moment for Jourdan recently, a real Maccas moment.
"I was never really confident applying for Maccas, I eventually did it and the following week they asked me to come in for an interview."
The teenager says he’d applied for at least a hundred jobs and been to a few interviews.
Fronting up to another interview was daunting but Jourdan did his homework.
"I just went in trying to be confident really, just went in being as confident as I could and talking more about what I have done," he said.
"All the experience that I have learned, and trying to upsell. The things that would have won me over the most was how much I was helping with the Y."
He smashed the interview. The folk at McDonald’s were blown away by Jourdan’s achievements with the Y NSW and more broadly.
The 18-year-old was named Central Coast Volunteer of the Year in 2021 for his leadership qualities when single-handedly managing a section of the Y NSW Careers Expo at Lake Haven last year.
It was a pretty good reaction, they were quite surprised when I told them I helped coordinate the Rec centre with the Expo.
He landed the job and the challenges kept coming.
"My first day working at McDonald’s I had no idea what I was doing, so all I did is I went in and had a go and watched everybody else," he said.
"We might not have that much knowledge but it is easy to pick up in the workplace."
And that’s a message Jourdan wants to push. Young people can do great things, if they get a chance.
"Even though we are kids we have a lot more to offer, we might be fresh out of school, we might not have much work experience. But just that little bit of training and things come together really easily."
"It’s just a matter of keeping calm, that’s all it is."
Jourdan is a teenager with a message, a cut-through message to other young people, built on experience.
"Everybody goes through tough stages. It’s not fair if people have to go through them, but don’t see the upside to things as well," he said.
Right now, Jourdan’s focussed on filling as many shifts as he’s been offered at McDonald’s.
"It’s going really good, it’s going really excellent."
He left high school last year, having finished Year 11 and picking up some trade certificates.
"I am liking the sound of maybe going into a trade, we’ll just see where that leads me in the future really."
A talented montage photographer, Jourdan plans to follow his passion and maybe one day, make it a side hustle.
“One day I might even use it as a side business, have something that will always bring in the money and have my photography on the side. Something that I enjoy but also make money off,” he said.
“I used to do a lot of photography. You do it to express how you feel, I used it as a coping mechanism.”
A keen basketballer, Jourdan also believes in the power of sport to help bring people together.
“It’s always the first thing I will go to, I’ve always loved playing ball. It’s fun, you get to mingle and meet so many new people and play styles, so I find it very interesting.”
And more often than not, Jourdan is shooting hoops with his mates at Streetgym. Just being ‘loose’ and staying in the moment.
“The Y do such a good job in making you feel at home, you feel like you can be yourself and have fun, and everyone gets along, everyone just gets along and works well as, like a bonded family I guess you could say,” he said.
Jourdan believes in giving back to the community. Volunteering is an important part of his life and a source of immense satisfaction.
“You can never go wrong with just being nice, just being there and being helpful, it’s the best feeling in the world really
“You know you are playing a part, whether it’s free or it’s paid,” he said.
Jourdan has his kit bag of tools to work through the difficult time. And his kit bag is impressive, grown over years of challenges and progress.
He works hard, learns quick and loves the company of others.
And he’s encouraging others to take up the offer of hot a chocolate on a cold day.
“I say ‘you should come along, its good fun and you get to play sport. It’s so fun and friendly. It’s just an amazing environment to be in.”
To see more of Jourdan’s montage photography visit: https://bit.ly/3NVbWjG
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