National Young Leaders Day – Halogen Foundation

leadership conceptual compassLast Friday, Hubby and I took our 2 children Princess (age 11 and in year 6) and Matey (aged 9 and in year 3) along to the Primary School National Young Leaders Day run by the Halogen Foundation in Melbourne. The Halogen Foundation run a Leadership Day in most Australian capital cities for both Primary and Secondary Students each year. This is our second year of attending the Melbourne Primary School event. The cost is a tad prohibitive – students at $46 and adults at $23 but we believe that if we want our kids to be leaders, we need to surround them with leaders, leadership experiences and inspirational thinking (although next year I am thinking of spending the money on inspirational books to read instead).

The guest speakers for the Melbourne event were Bindi Irwin, Jessica Gallagher, Andy Griffiths, and Coen Ashton.

Mike Martin, the soon to be ex director of the Halogen Foundation opened the meeting of over 4,300 students by stating that Leadership means influence and the only difference between you and someone else is basically time and the choices you make. The theme of “Get Started” was evident throughout the day.

Bindi Irwin was next up and she spoke a lot about her dad Steve Irwin and how she is trying to carry out his legacy. She encouraged everyone to be the change we wish to see. To be a leader, according to Bindi, you need to be passionate and follow your heart, surround yourself with the right people, have a willingness to learn and make time to volunteer. She quoted John F. Kennedy “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other” and finished with Theodore Roosevelt’s quote “Knowing what’s right doesn’t mean much unless you do what’s right”.

Andy Griffiths, the famous Australian author particularly for young boys, gave some great insights about writing. These included, write down great first lines, borrow ideas, ask the question “What if…?” Start with normal everyday insignificant things and expand from there with your writing. Also, know where you are starting and where you are ending and then find a problem and work out how to get to the ending. He explored the concept that leadership is helping people see things from a different perspective, asking “is there another way?” He finished by encouraging everyone to read, read, and read as reading fires the imagination.

Dr Jess Gallagher was the first Australian to win a medal at both the summer and the winter Paralympics. When she became 93% blind as a 13 year old, she needed to accept the fact that life had changed. She chose to be courageous, to have no regrets, and to take all the opportunities that came her way. Her parting words “You decide how you see life. I chose to embrace my 7% eyesight” were powerful.

Coen Ashton (17) was the last speaker. He has cystic fibrosis and Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus and received a double lung transplant when he was 13 years old. Before the transplant, he decided to jetski down the Murray River to raise awareness for organ and tissue donation. It took him 7 weeks and he motivated over 1000 people to register for organ donation. He received the Pride of Australia state, national and People’s choice awards. Within 12 months of his transplant, he jetskied back up the Murray River, this time in 7 days, to highlight the difference a transplant made to him. His one question to himself is “Will I regret this or regret not doing it?”

Matey loved hearing Bindi Irwin and hung on every word she said. Princess appreciated Coen’s input as she said that he explained his life really well and the choices he had continually made throughout his life.

How are you exposing your children to people who can influence them to make great choices, aspire to leadership and develop/hone their leadership skills? I would love to hear, so please drop me a line, comment below in the comments section etc. If we are raising our children to be world changers, then we need to be thinking practically about who influences them.