Esk selects its Youth of the Year

Toogoolawah High School students Eloise Alderson, Paul Maher, Charlie Humphreys and Ash Pratt participated in Esk Lions' Youth of the Year program on 8 March. Picture: GRACE CRICHTON

Toogoolawah’s young people put their passions, ideas, and opinions forward as they participated in the Lion’s Youth of the Year competition.

Hosted by Esk Lions Club, the program challenged four Toogoolawah State High School students in public speaking and leadership.

On 8 March, Eloise Alderson, Ash Pratt, Charlie Humphreys, and Paul Maher were interviewed by three judges before presenting prepared speeches and answering impromptu questions before an audience.

Eloise was named the overall winner and Charlie was the public speaking winner.

Eloise presented an impassioned speech challenging the way youth are represented in the media, calling out the tarring of her generations as ‘criminals, moody, and antisocial’ as a damaging generalisation.

Charlie drew on his experience participating in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards to encourage his audience to ‘give it a go’, sharing how the newfound skills he has acquired has benefitted him socially and emotionally.

Ash used her speech to address the true crime phenomenon, asserting it glorifies serial killers and robs victims of their identities, prioritising their gruesome deaths over the lives they lived.

Paul challenged society’s expectations and the media’s representation of masculinity, detailing the negative impacts this has on men’s mental health and asserting all men are individuals who should not have to conform to society’s expectations.

Judges Tanya Sherlock, John Cumner, and Garry Hutchinson were given the difficult task of picking a winner.

Mr Hutchinson said any one of the four candidates were worthy of winning.

“It was a really tough job for us… they are all deserving,” he said.

“The quality of those discussions and speeches was just outstanding.”

Eloise will represent the Esk Lions at the Regional Youth of the Year competition in Lowood on 23 March, along with winners from the Lowood, Ipswich, Jindalee, and Oxley/Sherwood.

Esk Lions Club president Cameron Wyatt was impressed by the four students.

“It’s inspirational,” he said.

“These young people are right in the middle of their assessment.

“There’s a hundred reason why they would go ‘I haven’t got time to that’.”

Mr Wyatt said the youth are the future.

“Anything we can do to help them to develop has got to be worthwhile,” he said.

“And not only to help them develop, but by watching them we grow ourselves.

“They might be younger than us but there’s plenty of wisdom in this room by the sound of it.”

Mr Wyatt thanked fellow Lions members, particularly those from Lowood and Fernvale, for their assistance in running the program.