Special Report by Natalie Centenera
17-year-old Dublin teenager, Amy Paech is a remarkable individual.
Currently completing Year 12 at Balaklava High, Amy’s consistently high grades in her academic studies are just the tip of the iceberg of her personal achievements.
This young lady dedicates much of her time to enriching the lives of others and in turn, this altruistic nature that has been instilled in her from an early age, has shaped an inspirational member of today’s youth.
Amy hopes to complete Year 12 with a Certificate 3 in Disability, and then pursue a career in that industry.
She is no stranger to working with the disabled, and finds volunteering at CARA (community, accommodation, respite agency) Camps For Kids, very fulfilling.
Giving up her weekends and personal time to attend these camps (up to six times a year) gives her great satisfaction and she “loves working with kids who have all varying ranges of disabilities from intellectual to severe and multiple”, she says.
She exudes a quiet confidence, maintains a warm smile, and is well spoken.
“She’s not your average teenager”, says Mum Anne-Marie with a smile, “I tell her all the time, she is a BHP, ‘quiet achiever’”.
Amy is discreet about her achievements and needs a little encouragement to recall, let alone elaborate on them.
She enjoys calisthenics, is an active member of the scouts in Angle Vale, has a bronze medallion in Royal Life Saving and participated in and won the local division of the Lions Youth of the Year award in Balaklava.
This win resulted in her attending the regionals at Bute and winning the public speaking award, with the topic ‘Still Waters Run Deep’, which then saw her speak at the Whyalla Districts competition, and even though she didn’t take first place she “took great experience from going”, she states.
Her voluntary contributions to the community through the scouts organisation saw her successful application for the Scouts Australia ‘Mawson Scholarship in Leadership’ program take her to Sydney in September last year for a five-day course which focused on developing leadership skills.
Participants selected to attend this course are identified as scouts’ most talented and passionate youth members.
The next course will be run in July this year and be held in Adelaide and Amy will volunteer her time to help run the first day’s scavenger hunt through the city.
In the meantime, she will continue to raise funds to attend a ‘World Challenge’ expedition to Vietnam with a group of 10 other students from Balaklava High this December.
“It will be my first trip overseas”, she says with a smile “and I’m looking forward to meeting new people and experiencing a different culture”.
The ‘World Challenge’ experience aims to prepare young people for life, with each student returning as an empowered individual with a global perspective on life.
It aims to develop leadership skills in the students, as well as resilience and empathy, qualities that are invaluable in our next generation.
The students will spend four weeks in Vietnam, the first week acclimatising to the culture and sights and sounds of the country leading to the second week which is spent on a Trek through the landscape of the local region, students choosing Dalat, in the central highlands of Vietnam, to explore.
Physical fitness and mental stamina are tested in this phase, and teamwork and leadership skills are built upon with students completing a two day practice trek at Mount Crawford Forest before they leave for Vietnam, concentrating on basic first aid, team work, cooking and basic camping skills.
Amy is most looking forward to the third week, the project phase, which is seen as the most rewarding part of the trip, where students will immerse themselves in a community and endeavor to make a meaningful contribution to the needs of that community.
The final week allows the students some rest and relaxation, and the opportunity to partake in cultural sightseeing and adventure activities and also to reflect on the trip overall.
The students need close to $6000 each to be a part of this amazing opportunity, and are working hard to, both individually and collectively, reach their target.
The group of students ran an Adidas 5km fundraiser at school, where all students had the opportunity to run and then participate in carnival activities like pie throwing.
Fundraising also included holding sausage sizzles, selling chocolates and collecting bottles and cans over the school site, students having “a lot of fun leading up to the event” Amy says.
Amy has been running her own face-painting stall at different events and is very close to raising the amount needed, and her Mum has also helped with her own craft and cooking stalls.
When Amy returns to Australia in January 2016, her experiences and attitude will no doubt have set her up to offer a positive and meaningful contribution to her local and wider community.
The future is indeed bright for this selfless and self-motivated teenager.