Leaders look to the future

Regional Youth of the Year competitors Aaron Wei, Eli Gearing and Eloise Alderson in the back row, with Angus Green and Adam Canavan seated. Pictures: JACOB HAYDEN

Some of our region’s brightest minds went head-to-head on Saturday 23 March for the title of Lions Regional Youth of the Year, held at the Lowood Showgrounds

Lowood State High School student Adam Canavan and Toogoolawah State High School student Eloise Alderson competed against their contemporaries representing Lions Clubs from across the region.

The students were interviewed before answering two impromptu questions, one about the role of social media in society, and the other about the biggest challenge facing younger generations and how they would solve it.

In his response, Adam spoke about social media’s negative influence on young people, while Eloise spoke about the harm caused by vaping, alcohol and other drugs.

Other students spoke about mental health, over-representation in youth crime, and how little input young people have in political decision making.

Following questions, students delivered prepared speeches on a chosen topic.

Adam explored what it meant to be a leader and called on all people to become leaders in their own way to support the next generation.

Eloise delved into the ethicality of reporting techniques used by the media which misrepresents young people as cruel, heartless, and detached from society.

Angus Green from St James College presented a bold and well-researched explanation for why the date of Australia Day should be changed.

Eli Gearing from Centenary State High School questioned what it meant to be successful and argued success should not be the opposite of failure, but of regret.

Aaron Wei from Queensland Academy of Science Mathematics and Technology dived into the racist attitudes inherent in society and presented a way the country could move forward.

Judges Susan Sherlock (Lockyer District High School deputy principal), Dave Noonan (Clarendon State School principal) and David Raine (Fernvale State School principal) were given the impossible task of choosing the winners.

After much deliberation, the judges appointed Aaron Wei as the Regional Youth of the Year winner and Eli Gearing as the Public Speaking winner.

Aaron will now go ahead to represent the region on 13 April for the district finals, to be held in Toowoomba.

Mr Raine said he understood what the students were going through.

“In 1986, I actually won a Lions Youth of the Year competition and it put me through to where you’re sitting here today,” he said.

“It’s an opportunity that you’ll reflect on….

“You’re nervous, you’re excited, your families are absolutely proud of your achievements, as we all are.

“It’s the start of many things ahead for you.

“You’re fine young men and women.”