A youth program successfully piloted in three schools in 2022, and rolled out through 10 schools during 2023, has plans for further expansion beyond Victoria.
Melbourne university student, Mr Kade Berman, developed the Act Your Purpose (AYP) program as part of his work for international community-based education charity – International Needs Australia (INA).
Berman, 22, is the coordinator and education officer of the AYP program that is being hailed as a ground-breaking conduit for growing youth philanthropy through action.
AYP is a year-long program that works with Years 9 and 10 students in secondary schools throughout Australia to help students to consider and identify their sense of purpose and to care for their world.
The ultimate goal of the program is to generate a climate of empowered youth change-makers with ambitions of effective social change.
The key focus is adolescent school students, and each program consists of four core workshops, presented either in person or online according to the school’s requirements. Each session runs for 60-90 minutes, and four sessions are facilitated – one session per term.
Following an address from Berman about AYP to more than 600 Year 9 students at Haileybury College in March, the head of innovation and entrepreneurship at Haileybury, Mr Damien Meunier, advised the program is likely to be included as a subject in the 2024 school curriculum.
“In 2023, the Haileybury Incubator Project – HIP for Good – is about encouraging our students to take action in their chosen area of social consciousness through enterprise and entrepreneurship,” Meunier said.
“Special thanks to Kade Berman from INA, for sharing his expertise on social issues and initiatives. I’ve had great feedback and in particular the interactive nature of the Act Your Purpose session was really well received. Our students left inspired and with the challenge of making a positive impact on their world,” he said.
Berman, who was the 2018 school captain at Mount Scopus Memorial College in Burwood, Melbourne, first became involved with INA as a university student on his path of purpose.
“I was involved in social justice and community service growing up, but I felt unfulfilled by this – largely because I was investing my time and channelling my energy into helping already privileged and well-off people within my community,” he said.
“So, after graduating I decided to take a year off to volunteer in rural and impoverished communities in Uganda, Tanzania, and Cambodia. I also lived in Kenya and Ethiopia too where I was away for over 12 months, and these experiences imbued me with such a strong sense of commitment and passion for social justice that I wanted to sustain this fire when I came back.”
On his return to Australia, Berman searched for a small and socially sustainable organisation that worked in international development and found INA’s country partnership process and scalability was “a perfect fit”.
“This organisation targets international poverty and women’s empowerment in developing worlds in a sustainable, effective, and culturally sensitive format; and because of its size, I felt I could contribute while also learning from and working alongside other likeminded and passionate people,” he said.
Act Your Purpose grew out of his role as an educational facilitator for INA’s established programs.
“I spoke with CEO David Ensor about how we could expand in the education/youth space and began developing a concept to help students identify and act upon their purpose within social justice and this later became Act Your Purpose,” he said.
The program is designed to help students identify their passion in social justice, and help them create something tangible – whether that’s a fundraiser, social enterprise, advocacy group, or campaign – and then to provide information and skills to help students to act on this by either continuing with their project or getting involved in local organisations that work in their area of passion, Berman explains.
He believes the program will endure and expand because it taps into an intrinsic human need, especially for young people.
“This program is moving the needle in augmenting a generation of young people engaged and exposed to social justice. Through these workshops and the students’ involvement, we are developing a culture among young people where they have a stronger ambition towards helping those in need and being intellectual, deliberate, and effective in their pursuits within the realm of social justice,” Berman said.
As the leader of Act Your Purpose, Berman has numerous plans for the future.
“We have some exciting new developments for AYP moving forward. The most notable is the online module course we are developing, alongside Haileybury College and future school sessions will also include a social enterprise and fundraising stream, to help students engage deeper with their area of passion,” he said.
Berman said the aim is eventually to have the AYP program fully digitised.
“Although our sessions are inclusive, we have found it difficult to reach rural and under-resourced communities in and outside of Victoria. To combat this, we are creating an online module system containing the content that will enable access to all, regardless of geography and demographic.
“In doing this, the program and information will be more ubiquitous and can better approach low-income communities within Australia,” he said.
Other developments include a new social media platform, where all information and updates for AYP, INA and other associated programs in the international development space can be provided.
International Needs Australia (INA), based in Melbourne and Sydney, is an international development organisation fully accredited by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) that works at the edges of large mainstream development programs with the poorest and most marginalised communities, particularly women and children, to eliminate poverty and its causes, regardless of affiliation.
This article was written by Leanne Younes.