'I am all for the Cottage girls group and especially as a growing teen to have other people to chat with etc' - Parent of 15 year old'I don't want to know a thing!! She needs you that's all I'm saying. She needs to talk. Won't do counseling. Please be there if you can. I won't ask or mention again but you are my only hope. She's in serious addiction She's also in denial. Normal 15.' Parent of 14 year old
'Thank you for everything you have done for me, whether it's been, giving me advice with what had been going on in the group, teaching me new skills or just for the chats' - 15 year old female participant of group last year
'You always said you'd be there for us but I understand if there's not much you can do, if it's alright could I please come see you soon I really need someone to talk to.' 15 year old, homeless
'Hey Deb sorry to annoy you but I'm stressing out over nothing and I don't know why and I can't stop crying and I'm feeling so crap and ahhh I just don't know how to calm down I can't sleep i don't know what to do' - 15 year old
'Thank you again for you wonderful support. Neither of us could manage without you.' - Grandmother/carer
Girls and boys groups take place every week during school terms and projects include music, dance, computer skills, mosaics, painting, jewellery making, discussion groups on all topics pertaining to health and wellbeing, fitness training, anger management, woodworking, tie-dying, outings or any other appropriate activity that participants may brainstorm.
The program, Youth Connections, has a close relationship with Mullumbimby High and young people who are experiencing difficulties in one or many areas are referred to participate in groups and/or case management.
All groups have taken part in information sessions with Tweed Valley Sexual Health workers and the Drug & Alcohol worker. They are also participating in the Arakwal Dolphin Dreaming sessions at the Byron Bay Lighthouse with Delta Kay and Nigel Stewart. Teeya Blatt has also done sessions with the girls looking at inner strengths and women's myths as they relate to today's world.
Currently programs are focusing on emotion boxes, jewelry making, fitness training, healthy active living including cooking skills, creative/self expressions banners for the Cottage and a number of fundraisers including a music event (in which Lilly McAllister performed some of her own songs), a Carwash and a sausage sizzle coming up.
Young men's groups are held at Mullumbimby Cottage weekly during school terms and both Years 9 and 10 attend.
The boys are part of a healthy active living program and participate in activities, programs and discussion groups as well as have lunch together each time they attend. Activities and programs include fitness training (focusing on skills, teamwork, anger management and destressing), cooking skills, artwork and computer skills. Programs they have participated in have included Arakwal Dolphin Dreaming at Byron Bay Lighthouse, sexual health info with Tweed Valley Sexual Health workers and drug and alcohol info with community D&A workers.
All programs are skills based and aimed at enhancing self esteem and self awareness, while individual support aims to keep participants engaged and attending school or finding alternative education and/or training opportunities.