When you meet Year 12 student Peter, his energy is immediately infectious. He is the ultimate 'yes man' with a fun-loving attitude and a sharp sense of humour.
After a few years here at NG Central, Peter is valued member of our school community and can always be counted upon to help others out. However, he didn't always feel this kind of enthusiasm about school. As a younger teen, Peter dealt challenges that put his education low on the priority list. From getting in trouble with police to experiencing homelessness, he describes feeling pretty purposeless and engaging in behaviours that weren't great for his physical or mental health.
It's no understatement to say that Peter is now living a vastly different life; one where school takes centre stage. He credits NG Central with a lot of this personal development. In the classroom, Peter has made huge strides and receives consistently great feedback from his teachers. It was with the support of NGC case manager that he first received his diagnosis of autism, ADHD and dyslexia and as a result, he has benefitted greatly from a classroom environment much more tailored to his needs and specific strategies to facilitate his learning.
"Before I came to NGC, I wasn't really going to school - I was a bit of a loose canon if I'm honest. But once I was here, I felt like part of the family and like I was respected. I didn't even have a diagnosis, so that has been huge because the teachers care about how you're going to learn best. I haven't had that at a school before. They make things feel hands-on...I never used to be any good at Maths and now I'm top of my class."
You can regularly find Peter hanging out in our NG Central gym or heading out with the crew for Outdoor Recreation. Using the skills he learnt from our resident trainer and youth worker Brad, he works out excess energy with a boxing session or a bush walk. Whether it's having active breaks throughout the day or snapping shots on Photography, Video and Digital Imaging excursions, NGC's commitment to practical, out-of-the-box learning suits Peter and keeps him engaged throughout the day.
Peter has chosen Retail as his V.E.T subject and is currently working towards his Certificate III. He has learnt about everything from merchandising to customer service and participated in work experience with Central Coast Mowers and Chainsaws. As a keen mechanic, Peter loved the chance to fix mowers, pull apart engines and test out his service skills in the customer-facing shop.
"People might think that retail is more female-dominated, but I don't think so. Plus, the classes are a good way to find out how girls think haha! But for my work experience, I got to combine both my interests and skills in retail and mechanics. I love anything with a motor so it was awesome."
As an Aboriginal young man, Peter also participates in our cultural affirmation activities and in Aboriginal Education with Mark. He has painted totem poles for the school grounds, put his hand up for delivering the Welcome to Country at school events and headed out on Country where he has sampled bush tucker and seen significant Aboriginal rock art.
When asked whether he ever expected to be on his way to graduating Year 12, Peter laughs and says that it wouldn't have happened without the support he has gotten from NGC. He has his eyes on the prize with his HSC exams approaching in October and will also be working towards applying for a range of jobs in Retail, with a possible trade apprenticeship on the cards in the future.
"During NGC careers classes, I've learnt about the dos and don'ts of applying for a job and I've also realised that there are heaps more pathways to get employed. You don't have to just wear a suit or have perfect spelling. You don't have to fit the mould, but you can still go places. I would tell anyone to come to NGC. Get a trade and get a plan for life outside school."