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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Wong

Strong People

What do these words conjure in your mind? Did you think muscles and bravado? Or, if you're like me did you think empowering, inspiring humans who lead by example, example of compassion and strength to stand up for what's right?

When I took this first picture, I was glowing with pride at the unquantifiable outcomes like this, that are a result of our neurodivergent coding club. We can measure participation, pathways to careers, and technical ability. But we can't measure how moments like this one change lives.

Moments when an autistic woman who grew up feeling different, confused in a social world, sits down with an autistic child and says, "I hear you." A moment when an autistic child beams and thinks, "I want to be like Sarah (woman pictured)."

When I took this next picture, I was grinning on the inside, aware of how this community leader has made a lifetime impact on this beautiful young man.

This the is Mayor of Mandurah, Rhys Williams going out of his way at a public event to have a word with Jaxan. At an event like this, it's much easier for delegates to stay at their table and enjoy the event with guests. However, Mayor Williams sought out Jaxan for a chat, and in doing so affirmed his positive self story. This action told Jaxan "Whatever you are dealing with at school or socially, I've got your back and you have my respect." These are the unmeasurable actions of strong people that change lives. People strong enough to lead alongside youth.

Our future leaders need compassionate role models more than ever. They need strong role models who will stand up for what is right. In a world where it is so easy to follow the crowd instantly via social media, a world where 'trolling', 'sexting', and nasty opinions are normalised, you need to be a strong person. Be the breath of fresh air that exists beyond the screen and tells a young person that they are heard, they are worthy, and they can be the difference.

Michelle and Lexie, Peel's youth female leader of 2023.

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