This year marks six years for the Luminosity Youth Summit. FOCUS chats to Co-Founder & Chair Kate Wood-Foye, founding partner of the summit and committee members Ricky Pomroy and Nina Cass …
Kate, tell us how the idea for the summit came about?
IN 2012 I was contacted by Dr Muyesser Durur of CSU and Sue Jogever to join education leaders at the Council chambers to participate in a forum regarding the current status of youth leadership in the Hastings. Participants included Terry Muldoon of SCAS, the executive team from the St Agnes Parish schools, including John McQueen, Adam Spencer, Jim O’Brien and dedicated principals representing all of the public schools across the region, Sandra Wallace of then CSU, TAFE NSW and University of Newcastle representatives.
The discussion was around how we can create more opportunities for leadership and create pathways for people to want to study and return to the region, instead of moving away and taking all of their skills with them. As an events and marketing person, I wasn’t sure how I could contribute to this meeting and almost didn’t attend. I am so glad I did.
That night I heard passionate discussion from a diverse cross section of the education community and a joint desire to improve things for our young people – it just wasn’t clear how this could be done. It resonated with me deeply, as I grew up in a rural/regional area and felt strongly about the lack of access to facilities, resources and generally limiting opportunities for regional students. Muyesser, Sandra, Sue and myself met up post meeting, and I knew from that moment that I could contribute to this issue by creating an annual Youth Summit that would draw people to Port Macquarie and also benefit young people in our region to access resources and speakers they would normally only experience in a large city … In a nutshell – put Port Macquarie on the radar for excellence in youth leadership.
Once you and the team established the organisation, how did you go about ensuring the summit would suit the audience?
We gathered more like-minded professionals and decided to hold a think tank at Zebu, to see if creating a not for profit organisation to address this issue had legs – an open forum – to gauge the interest in level of discussion around youth leadership. We wanted to consult with youth organisations and youth themselves, to ensure the organisation was effective. We expected a small number to turn up and give input on their ideas for creating a framework for youth leadership and excellence – we were overwhelmed with the response. The room was jam packed with almost 100 people wanting to contribute and participate.
At the forum I nervously floated the dangerous idea of creating and holding a three day summit for 15 – 25 year olds here in Port Macquarie, utilising the beautiful Glasshouse, where leaders from all walks of life, who were at their top of their fields, would come and share their pearls of wisdom and experience to 350 young students.
I was delighted to see so many eyes light up, including those of HCCU team Jenna Coombes and Warden Mersey … We were on to something. Part of our charter was that for every “adult” on the committee we would have a young person shadowing that person, to ensure we stayed relevant and our content was on point. Assisted by Aaron Patton, our Vice Chair and Mitch Davis, Jack Begbie, Abby Artuso and Lauren Judge, just some of the amazing young people who have contributed to the success of the summit along the way.
Ricky, what are some of the key elements that make the summit so appealing?
What comes to mind straight away is the energy that Luminosity creates. The main theatre of the Glasshouse continuously builds with energy throughout the 3-day summit, to the point where on the final day the room is electric! The energy fuels young gun delegates, speakers and facilitators by inspiring them to challenge the status quo and excel in their chosen area. The three days create almost a bubble – where they can let go of anything outside of that environment, unplug from any worries or stresses, their home, work or school identities and use that space, time and energy to recreate themselves, learn from the stories shared on the stage and formulate their own ideas. The format of the summit is particularly appealing to young people. Luminosity Youth Summit is an inclusive environment; people are encouraged, free and celebrated for expressing their individuality and sharing their ideas. The program, consisting of both keynote presentations and interactive small group masterclasses enables young gun delegates to gain so much more from the incredibly talented list of presenters and take away more tangible skills and strategies.
Kate, who are the key speakers that you have lined up for this year?
We have some ridiculously exciting speakers this year… a total of 20 inspiring, provocative and very different characters. Powerhouse Jessica Watson kicks off the summit, renowned for sailing solo unassisted around the world at age 16, she is also an author and philanthropist. Future Crunch, a trio of double degree scientists, philanthropists, economists and musicians who discuss the power of science, progress, positivity and the media – very quirky and cool with a powerful message. Jack Wilson, the winner of Australian Ninja Warrior and Indigenous marathon runner, will talk about his path to success, his commitment to healthy living – his physical fitness is truly next level and really communicates the power of mind, body, commitment and focus. Our presenting partner, Mid North Coast Local Health District, co-presents Dr Angela Jay – Paediatrician and White Ribbon Ambassador. We can’t wait to share it with the 350 young guns in July!
Nina, we hear there are some really fun elements; for example, masterclasses – can you tell us about them?
Masterclasses are always an interactive learning opportunity. The small groups enable delegates to obtain skills and tangible tools to use in their field of choice. Masterclasses run across two days of the program, as well as an evening masterclass – usually with a dance or movement element. These classes can be preselected on registration well before the summit and allow for young guns to choose areas and speakers they are interested in e.g. starting their own business, starting a not- for-profit organisation, budgeting for business, environmental. Kelly and Kate are working on masterclasses this year and have lined up some inspirational national, international and regional facilitators to engage and inspire!
Ricky, you have had some amazing support locally from businesses; whom would you like to thank?
Many of our sponsors have been with us from year one, back in 2013, and continue to believe that Luminosity Youth Summit is an important national youth event in region. This event would not happen without the tremendous support we have from local businesses, and we are incredibly grateful. As the principal partner to the event, Stewart Dowrick and the Mid North Coast Local Health District are an integral component of our support. There is a long list of local business who support us in various ways; to mention them all would take up the entire article. To name a few of our wonderful supporters, we would like to thank Neville Parsons, Les Bailey and the team at Holiday Coast Credit Union, Rydges Port Macquarie, Jenny Sinclair and Julie Jamieson of headspace, Charles Sturt University, Port Macquarie-Hastings Council and the Port Macquarie Business Chamber. This summit is funded and supported by local business and is so successful because of the care and support it receives from the business community.
When is it on, and how can youth get involved?
July 25th – 27th is when all the action is taking place. Tickets are available now via our site www.luminosityyouthsummit.com.au – your ticket includes three days of speakers, masterclasses, evening workshops, open mic night and morning tea and lunch daily. We also encourage young people to fundraise for their ticket by creating events and working as a team in the lead up to the summit. Young people could leverage family and friends for support in the form of donations towards their ticket. You can create a fundraising page for your ticket following a link on the Luminosity Youth Summit website, or go directly to www.myluminosity.raisley.com
It really is a life changing experience – be there – we dare you!
Thanks to the Lumo team!