A renewed sense of confidence and a more positive outlook are among the benefits young people say they have gained from a youth-focused project in Kiama that has resulted in a new podcast series.
The Kiama Resilience Project, a partnership between non-profit arts organisation Beyond Empathy and Sentral Youth Services, brought together a group of young people in a bid to empower them by giving them the opportunity to create something they could take pride in.
"We asked the young people what they wanted to do, and they all agreed they wanted to do a podcast," Beyond Empathy community producer Shaniece Igano said.
What has resulted is RealFM, a podcast in which young people discuss their passions, talk about their experiences and chat with mentors.
"We've given them a safe space to explore who they are and have a voice," Miss Igano said.
The nine-month project also involved creating music, developing the podcast art, documenting the creation of the podcast through photography, and film production.
Bailey Muldoon is among those involved in creating RealFM: he designed much of the podcast art, spoke on an episode and helped host one.
The 21-year-old, who lived in Gerringong but since moved to Port Kembla, said he had never been public with his art before now.
"I'm nervous, but curious to see what people think," Bailey said.
Participating in the project also encouraged him to think differently - he said he now considered what he had been through in his life and believed that if he could get through that, he could get through life.
"It was eye-opening, made me rethink a lot of things and look at things in a different way, a more positive way," Bailey said.
Another person involved in the project was 17-year-old Bella Mainey, who said she went to the youth centre regularly and liked to get involved in everything they had to offer.
Bella too spoke in a podcast episode and hosted an episode.
Before getting involved in the Kiama Resilience Project, Bella said, she was very anxious when talking to people she didn't know.
"I'm definitely a bit more open, and I've met a couple of new people along the way," she said.
Bella said it was a "very fun experience" and something that had benefited a lot of people.
Miss Igano hailed the project as a success, "110 per cent".
"I am so proud of what the young people have contributed to the project," she said.
By simply being themselves, Miss Igano said, these young people affected how others saw themselves.
The Kiama Resilience Project and the achievements of its participants were celebrated at a showcase event in Kiama's Hindmarsh Park on Saturday, August 19, featuring music, food, and the launch of the RealFM podcast.
The project was funded through the NSW government's Children and Young People Wellbeing Recovery Initiative.
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