Riverland Skillin’ It inspires and empowers young people

Community stories eNews: 28 June 2022

Part of Things is a gathering place and ideas hub for young people in Barmera in the Riverland region of South Australia. They used a $10,000 FRRR ABC Heywire Youth Innovation Grant to adopt and adapt their own version of the Skillin’ It project idea that was developed at the 2020 Heywire Regional Youth Summit. 

Riverland Skillin’ It was a 12-month project that brought together a leadership ‘squad’ of four local young people from across the Renmark Paringa, Loxton Waikerie and Berri Barmera local government areas to create a series of online and live workshops aimed at inspiring, connecting and upskilling young people. 

Despite being impacted by the uncertainties of COVID, including a full lockdown in June 2021, the project culminated in the Skillin’ It squad members curating and delivering Symposium – a two-day festival in September 2021 for local young people aged 18 to 26. Held in Barmera, Symposium featured in-person workshops to support participants develop small business, creative and life skills, while also encouraging knowledge sharing between individuals and community members. 

Across the life of the project, the Skillin’ It squad and festival presenters were actively mentored and supported by Part of Things founder and project mentor, Alysha Herrmann, who is an award-winning producer, youth arts worker and ‘doer’ who has been delivering community, arts and youth projects of varying scale across regional South Australia for over ten years. 

Kelsey Hogan from the Barmera District War Memorial Community Centre, which auspiced the application on behalf of Part of Things, said Riverland Skillin’ It was instrumental in providing a dedicated project with intensive and tailored mentoring for local young people to connect with each other and their community. 

“Young people are under-represented in leadership and decision making across the Riverland. This project has developed positive relationships between young adults and their community and provided a safe space for people to connect, develop confidence, try something new and community build,” Ms Hogan said. 

“We can’t plug all the gaps and overcome the challenges our region presents for young people. However, what we have done with Riverland Skillin’ It, is invest in a core group of local young people to ensure that they were able to successfully deliver a project for their community and now feel inspired, supported and ready to make greater things happen for themselves and others.” 

Together they were able to leverage the success of the Heywire grant to partner with all three Riverland councils, and attracted an additional $22,100 of funding. This increased the resources available for the project and added additional paid opportunities for the young people who participated, and also removed fees for participants to attend the final festival workshop weekend. 

A legacy of the project is The Knowledge Hub, an online resource housed on the Part of Things website that features downloadable resources, curated links, blog posts and other content, which exists to share and build ideas, skills and knowledge across a range of genres, disciplines and interest areas.