The Rivendell SRC recently had the opportunity to travel to the Generation Next Student Wellbeing and Leadership Program, which was held at the Belvoir St. Theatre. The Student Wellbeing and Leadership Program is an interactive conference which empowers young people to become leaders and advocates for mental wellbeing within their peer groups, families, schools and the wider community.
The SRC were especially lucky to watch some engaging and informative speakers, including Alpha Cheng, Matt X and Andrew Fuller. Students were asked to reflect upon what they found most interesting or most surprising:
Matt X’s ability to change his stance on hating Asians, to now being okay with them. And being able to have a friendly discussion with Alpha who is from Hong Kong – D.M
At the conference I learned that people can’t actually multitask. I found Matt X’s story interesting, especially the fact that he had created this group because of being bullied and targeted, and in turn the group became a group that bullied and targeted Asians, which seems super ironic – R.H
I learned how multi-tasking is near impossible and the effects of stress on your wellbeing – N.S
I learned about the different chemicals in your body that affect you in different ways – J.M
If you are interested in finding out more about the insightful presentations, then please read on:
Alpha Cheng and Matt X:
Choosing not to hate
ALPHA CHENG is the son of police accountant, Curtis Cheng, who was fatally shot in November 2015 by 15 year old Fahad Jabar outside NSW Police Headquarters in Parramatta.
Since then, Alpha has become a vocal advocate for gun control and has worked voluntarily to promote a national gun amnesty, the first in 20 years. He teaches humanities at a Canberra High School and speaks out against violence and hate, instead promoting tolerance and understanding.
At the conference Alpha said that hate and anger that comes from trauma needs to be transformed and resolved, otherwise it transmits to others in society, perpetuating more violence and hate.
MATT X is a counter violent extremist consultant for government, intelligence and non-government organisations. He experienced a violent and abusive childhood, both at home and at school where he was bullied by classmates and mistreated by teaching staff.
In his early teens he became part of a gang of displaced youths who were determined to act out their shared anger and hatred by violently attacking people of Asian descent.
Matt’s life changed one day when a young Asian man protected him from being beaten in a street fight. This act was a catalyst that led Matt to consider seeing the individual for who they are, and choosing a less hate-filled, destructive path in life. He now works with young people at risk of committing acts of terrorism and mass violence, believing understanding, peer support and redirecting passions is the most helpful way to get disengaged, disenfranchised and traumatised youth to turn their lives around.
Rewiring your brain for better mental health
ANDREW FULLER is a clinical psychologist who knows a lot about young people and stress! Andrew said that when we become stressed, we can experience blocks in our memory and concentration, and our immunity can decrease.
Andrew said that humans can multi-process but not multi-task.
Andrew gave students an exercise illustrating how multi-tasking actually decreases concentration, and makes study less effective. So, when you are doing schoolwork, it is best not to be listening to music or playing with your phone!
Multi-processing means that we can be thinking about something at a deeper level while working on another task. This means that if you are ever stuck on a tricky exam question, it’s worth leaving it to do some easier questions and then come back to it as your brain will have been still processing the tricky question and may have come up with the solution/answer.
— Notes by C.H