Natasha – Active In-Betweens Youth Volunteer
Why did you become a Healthy Cities Illawarra (HCI) volunteer?
I became a HCI volunteer initially, because I wanted to affirm my interest within the Public Health / Health Promotion field, by applying my studies, of a Bachelor of Public Health, to current Health promotion programs. I researched Health Promotion programs, which were Illawarra based, HCI caught my attention due to their range of programs available to be involved in, their focus on the health of the Illawarra and Shoalhaven population and their “place based” health approaches. The organisation really aligned with my personal values as well as, the career and educational path I’m currently pursuing.
How did you first get involved with Healthy Cities Illawarra?
When I first got involved, HCI were flexible and understanding of my availability. I am a full-time university student, so I initially became a volunteer for the Active In-Between’s Program, based at the Bellambi Community Centre site, known as ‘Bellza’. I am still currently volunteering here weekly, every Tuesday afternoon, working with an amazing team to deliver health messages and activities to the children within the Bellambi community.
What has your experience as a volunteer been like?
My experience as a volunteer, has been extremely positive. The program I’m involved in is something I look forward to participating in every week. My experiences through the program have allowed me to connect and learn from other volunteers and staff, building my career skills. The Active In- Betweens program has given me a positive experience working with children. My personal context as an only child, from a small family, meant I had limited experience communicating and interacting with children. Having a supportive team of HCI staff and volunteers allowed me to build my confidence and skills in this area, which is something I really value.
What is the best thing about being a HCI volunteer in your perspective?
As mentioned previously, having a supportive, friendly, and constructive volunteer team has really inspired me to continue being involved with the current program I volunteer for. I always feel my opinions and thoughts are valued and appreciated, especially when we take the opportunity to have planning and reflection days as a team. I really feel HCI values our voices and perspective when it comes to building programs, along with highlighting strengths and weaknesses. Additionally, I have really enjoyed working at the Belza site, connecting with the community, and have a newfound confidence communicating and delivering health messages to children.
What would you say to anyone outside considering volunteering?
I would say they can feel safe in knowing HCI is an amazing organisation, that values their staff and volunteers equally. HCI, allows you to connect with a range of individuals who will support you and check in, throughout your volunteering experience and enable you to establish a competent set of social and career skills, which you can apply to your studies and future career. Additionally, the programs are a lot of fun, inclusive and tailored to give you valuable life experience which can’t just simply be taught within a classroom environment.
If you’d like to volunteer with an organisation that has real impact in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven, register your interest now!