2 May 2024

Wollongong Youth Week awards honour talented and committed young people

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Girl holding an award with man in hat.

Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery presents Bharathi Gotyal with the Youth Week Volunteer Award. Photo: Wollongong City Council.

Bharathi Gotyal has packed more into her 19 years than most people will achieve in a lifetime.

Bharathi has been named the Wollongong Youth Week Volunteer, one of seven awards handed out to highlight the achievements and efforts of young people aged 12-24.

Wollongong Mayor Gordon Bradbery presented the awards to round off Youth Week celebrations last week.

For the past seven years, Bharathi has been volunteering for a diverse range of causes including environmental, educational and humanitarian causes, mental health and wellbeing and aged care.

She plays the violin and provides music therapy for aged care residents, playing music from each resident’s childhood to help boost declining memory.

Bharathai has volunteered with Australian Youth Climate Coalition, Fisher’s Ghost Community Orchestra, Interact Club and as a peer support leader assisting Year Sevens to transition into high school.

Youth Week award winners

Community Ambassador – Lucy Brannigan
Lucy, 16, works within her school and local community to represent, lead and be an advocate for her Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.

Lucy runs workshops at her school with non-Indigenous students and performs Acknowledgement of Country at school functions and assemblies. She also works to support primary school students with disability and teaches gymnastics.

Lucy dances with the Yanga Garaba Dance Company for Southern Stars. She also works with the NRL as part of the Youth Summit Leadership Team for Indigenous students, teaching young athletes cheerleading.

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Artist – Sarah Carr
Sarah’s art reflects his experience through major themes of acceptance, belonging and connection.

As a participant in Wollongong Youth Service’s Young Artist in Residency 2023 program, Sarah ran ‘paint and sip’ workshops for young people to develop skills in painting and self-expression. He also took part in the Artist Talks series with the Youth Centre’s Rainbow League program participants.

During his residency, Sarah painted two major artworks which were exhibited at the Youth Centre, portraying themes of warmth and connection, in response to the isolation experienced by local young people, post-COVID.

Performer – Saskia McIntyre
Saskia is a dedicated musician studying saxophone at Wollongong Conservatorium. She is aiming to gain admission to Sydney Conservatorium for university next year.

Saskia, 17, is Cultural (Arts) Captain at St Mary Star of the Sea College and helps with the planning and running of performing arts events throughout the year.

She formed a jazz combo at St Mary’s in 2023, which performed at the school’s 150th Gala Ball and Grand Reunion.

Sportsperson – Caitlin Brooker
Caitlin began studying karate more than eight years ago and has achieved a double brown belt in three karate styles. She has competed at local, state, national and international level karate.

She represented Australia at the KSI Karate World Championships in July 2023 and was the flagbearer for Team Australia at the closing ceremony.

Caitlin, 17, was recently re-selected for the Australian team for the 2025 KSI Karate World Championships in Finland.

Caitlin volunteers at her local dojo, helping senior instructors to run classes, open days and school holidays programs.

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Environmentalist – Asher Noble
Asher attends Five Islands Secondary College and is working on a project as part of the Big Picture classroom, which involves conducting research about landfills, waste, and recycling.

Asher, 18, has dedicated time to learn more about recycling and compost, and implemented this knowledge into his studies and practices.

Each day he makes his way around the school to check in on staff and students and collect their recyclables to help them minimise waste.

Small Business – Happy Body Collective
Happy Body Collective (HBC) is a local small business providing hula hooping classes, live entertainment and funky activewear.

Its founders, Bianca Pentrecost and Lauren Greer (the Hoop Babes), have built HBC from the ground up, continuing to grow their brand and act as an inspiration to young female artists around them.

Bianca and Lauren’s business model is based on a belief that expression and joy through movement should be available to all bodies and abilities. Their regular hula hoop workshops provide a great opportunity for people to get moving, laughing and building confidence.

Lauren and Bianca also provide workshops at the University of Wollongong.

Highly commended:

  • Volunteer: Jurni Young
  • Community Ambassador: Eren Maltby
  • Performer: Empure
  • Sportsperson: Zac Hilton
  • Small Business: Baraa Mahmoud.

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