News

Hope for our teens with mental illness

A MANNINGHAM Youth Services project is set to launch next month in a bid to offer guidance and hope for Warrandyte teenagers affected by mental illness.

The String of Hope aims to encourage young people talk to about mental illness and reduce the stigma attached to mental health issues.

It’s a taboo topic, but with research figures showing one in four young people living with a mental illness, it can’t be ignored.

What started as a youth photography experiment, highlighting the prevalence of mental illness among young people, has blossomed into a multi-faceted project with school visits, a website and a festival in the works.

The String of Hope is being led by a group of dedicated youth volunteers. The group of 15 – from Warrandyte and surrounding areas – are determined to create a safe environment for teenagers to talk about mental health issues; in the schoolyard and online.

“The fact that String of Hope has been envisioned and led by young volunteers is this project’s biggest strength,” volunteer Lauren Lowe tells the Diary. “No one under- stands what young people are going through better than young people themselves.”

The String of Hope website will provide a platform for young people to share personal stories of mental illness and connect with others. The

site aims to arm teens with information about mental illness and direct them to the relevant support services in the area.

“Projects like the String of Hope are essential in an era where mental health is too often neglected and stigma- tised. This is especially true for younger generations, with poor mental health being one of the top ranking issues fac- ing Australian teens. We love the String of Hope because it empowers these young people to take control of their mental health and talk about their struggles and progress,” Lowe says.

The project has already launched in schools in the district with Warrandyte High School the first to experience the education sessions.

“Students participated in positive mental health activities, sports and music. They actively discussed and shared positive mental health strategies with the facilitators and each other. Lots of them seemed excited and engaged,” Manningham YMCA employee Kim Nguyen says.

The String of Hope team is putting their months of hard work on display at a festival next month during Mental Health Week. There’ll be activities, live music, food, a photography exhibition and more.

VIDEO: Sweet Valentine

SARAH Valentine is Warrandyte’s musical pride and joy. The 22-year-old wedding singer is a regular on Warrandyte’s main street and, in recent times, a regular on hundreds of thousands of TV screens in living rooms across the country.

Sarah’s just wrapped filming for Channel Nine’s The Voice, the hottest reality singing show on Australian television. As Sarah tells the Diary, there’s a big difference between busking at the local market and recording a TV performance watched by over a million people.

“My experience on The Voice was not what I expected it would be. I didn’t think that I’d get very far—but it just kept going and working in my favour,” Sarah said.

It’s been a wild ride for Sarah, who travelled between Sydney and Melbourne for months to film the fourth season of the show. Her blind audition has racked up tens of thousands of views and The Voice regularly tops the ratings, boasting over a million viewers every night. But it’s not all glitz and glamour, and Sarah assures the Diary that so much more goes on behind the scenes compared with what we see on our screens.

“The TV world is very different to anything I expected. The power of editing is second to none. It sur- prised me a lot,” she said.

“I’d done about seven auditions prior to even getting to audition in front of the coaches. One day, they took 10 hours to audition eight peo- ple. It’s crazy!”

Despite all the waiting, long hours, nerves and sitting around in hair and make-up, Sarah wouldn’t change a thing.

“It was very, very intense. But I loved every minute of it.”

The community of people working on the show ended up feeling like family for Sarah.

“Your backstage crew are the people that you latch onto. They’re the ones that show you the most support,” she told the Diary.

“I loved my stylist. She gave me the most amazing outfits—I remember coming out of the wardrobe each time and everyone else would say ‘Oh, Sarah’s got the best outfit again’. You literally feel like a rock star. It’s so awesome.”

So, what is it like working with the Madden Brothers? Are they as cool, calm and collected, as they seem on TV?

“They were so great. Their strength was setting the atmosphere and making it a relaxed environment. They treat you like friends. You’d never feel like there’s a status difference and they don’t act like celebrities—they talk to you like they would their pals.”

Sarah cites the support from her family and friends as one of the best parts of the experience and the support from her local Warrandyte community as “second to none.”

“I actually posted on the Facebook about my audition and everyone was commenting and wishing me luck.

“It was like ‘Team Sarah!’ and ‘Team Warrandyte!’ It was so cool.

“A week after I got booted from the show, I did a busking gig at the Warrandyte market. It was so great to interact with people who had followed my journey just because I was from Warrandyte, like I became their pride and joy. I loved that and I soaked it all up!”

What’s next for Sarah?

“I’m doing some gigs and the moment. I got a lot of work and traction from the show. I think next for me though is writing some songs and releasing an EP,” Sarah told the Diary.

She might not be on our TV screens any more, but one thing is for sure: you certainly haven’t heard the last of Sarah Valentine.

VIDEO: Rare block sells for $2.03 million

The Diary team heads to the auction of the rare vacant block on Keen Avenue. The 2.7 acres of untouched land is one of the few remaining allotments in Warrandyte which permits subdivision, selling for an impressive $2.03 million.

VIDEO: Jock Macneish’s life in cartoons

The Warrandyte Historical Society presents ‘A Cartoonist’s Insight into Living in Warrandyte,’ an inspiring and amusing presentation by Jock Macneish. The Diary captured the event and spoke to Jock and a few people of interest about his presentation.

The Cliffy is here

WARRANDYTE is renowned for its creative types and now the Warrandyte Diary is calling all aspiring writers, young and old, to enter The Cliffy, a new short story com- petition to be held annually.

The Cliffy aims to celebrate and honour the contribution to Australian writing made by Cliff Green (OAM, inset) and to promote the skill of writing and the pleasure of reading in the community.

The competition is open to everyone and will be judged by a panel representing the Warrandyte Diary and the Warrandyte Library.

The entries can be submitted by email as a word document and are to be strictly limited to 1000 words. There will be no restrictions on subject, however, the entry must be suitable for un-edited publication in the Warrandyte Diary and on the Diary website.

The competition is advertised (below) and was officially opened at the start of this month and will close by 5pm on November 30.
The winner will be announced
at the Warrandyte Festival Grand Read event next year (March) and the winner will be given the opportunity to present the material at the event.
 Successful entries will be published in the Warrandyte Diary and the winner will receive prizes in the form of book tokens from major bookshops.

The value of the tokens is yet to be determined but expected to be about $250.

Of course, in addition to the tokens, the winner will be officially presented with The Cliffy figurine.

WARRANDYTE is renowned for its creative types and now the Warrandyte Diary is calling all aspiring writers, young and old, to enter The Cliffy, a new short story com- petition to be held annually.

The Cliffy aims to celebrate and honour the contribution to Australian writing made by Cliff Green (OAM, inset) and to promote the skill of writing and the pleasure of reading in the community.

The competition is open to everyone and will be judged by a panel representing the Warrandyte Diary and the Warrandyte Library.

The entries can be submitted by email as a word document and are to be strictly limited to 1000 words. There will be no restrictions on subject, however, the entry must be suitable for un-edited publica- tion in the Warrandyte Diary and on the Diary website.

The competition is advertised (below) and was officially opened at the start of this month and will close by 5pm on November 30.
The winner will be announced
at the Warrandyte Festival Grand Read event next year (March) and the winner will be given the opportunity to present the material at the event.
Successful entries will be published in the Warrandyte Diary and the winner will receive prizes in the form of book tokens from major bookshops.

The value of the tokens is yet to be determined but expected to be about $250.

Of course, in addition to the tokens, the winner will be officially presented with The Cliffy figurine.