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"I know how it feels to have (poor) mental health and it can be a sucky thing to go through. I don’t want kids to go through it, but if they do – I want to be there to help."

Kaleb - Streetgym Participant
Kaleb - Streetgym Participant With newfound confidence, Kaleb sets his sights on a career in Youth Work

The ‘Kaleb’ who dropped into a Y StreetGym in South West Sydney in late 2022 was shyer and more reserved than the 16-year-old young person he is today.  

It hadn’t occurred to him yet that he would want to work with youth one day. And if you’d asked him then, he wouldn’t have expected to have the confidence anytime soon to get up in front of a room full of people to play his favourite song on the piano. 

Things changed for Kaleb when he came across Camden United Resilience Basketball (CURB). Delivered by the Y in partnership with Camden Council and Big Yellow Umbrella, the program gives basketball novices and enthusiasts aged 10-18 opportunities to receive professional basketball coaching, play as a team and socialise as they navigate life. 

“CURB also teaches us life skills,” said Kaleb. “We learn about how tough life can be and we get taught ways to handle it, how to be resilient. CURB is a great experience and has its own uniqueness. It’s a place where you can make friends and it’s easier to talk to people. No one is judgemental. I always felt like you could talk to the staff and get stuff off your shoulders.” 

“One day I spoke to some of the new workers, and they were telling me they were from the Y. I spoke to Mark first and he told me everything they do, and it all flowed from there.” 

The Year 10 student is participating in community life in new ways now. He is a regular at CURB and hangs out with the workers at the Y four days a week. He recently delivered a ‘thank you’ speech to the program partners and Office of Regional Youth NSW. A few months ago, Kaleb also dared to try something he hadn’t done before – give a music performance. 

“In Term 2, I performed at a local concert for a group of older people having lunch together. I played ‘The Rumbling’ by a band named Sim. It was my favourite song – and still is – and I decided to learn to play it on the piano. I can’t read music, so I had to go on YouTube and watch people play it”. 

“I wasn’t the best but I did it to build resilience and confidence. It felt nerve-wracking when I went up – my fingers were shaking and I mucked up two notes… but I was so proud of myself afterwards,” he said. 

Kaleb says being involved with CURB and the Y has affected him ‘in a good way’. His advice for young people thinking about getting involved is ‘to do it’.  

“I get to talk to staff about personal stuff and have sought advice which I still use to this day,” Kaleb said. “I’ve made a friend and talk to everyone else there. I still struggle with confidence, but it’s helped me. I have start-up conversations now – it was so much harder before. 

“I like how they consider everyone’s ideas. There was a trick quiz I was given at TAFE that I told one of the workers at the Y about. A few months later in a life skills session, they used it for everyone! It felt special.” 

“They’re really helpful. If you ever have stuff on your chest – you’re not forced, they’re an option. They can help you get through stuff or hook you up with other organisations who can help you.” 

Kaleb’s interest in helping has been part of the future he imagines for about six months. And he’s worked out what he needs to do to get there.  

“I’m planning to go to TAFE next year and finish Year 11 and 12 with a Cert II. Then I’m going to go on to a Cert IV in Community Service and look for a job like Case Management or Youth Work. I really want to help kids,” he said. 

“I see myself as a Youth Worker one day, with a family, a two-story house and my dream car: a black Chevvy Impala 1967,” he smiles. “I know how it feels to have (poor) mental health and it can be a sucky thing to go through. I don’t want kids to go through it, but if they do – I want to be there to help.” 

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