Youth councillor awarded Fremantle Citizen of the Year


Fremantle Citizen of the Year Award winner Simone Ryan. Picture: Martin Kennealey www.communitypix.com.au d478938
Fremantle Citizen of the Year Award winner Simone Ryan. Picture: Martin Kennealey www.communitypix.com.au d478938

YOUTH councillor Simone Ryan was awarded the Fremantle Citizen of the Year Award on Australia Day.

Ms Ryan, a former teacher motivated by providing a different future for at risk kids, said it took her a while to realise it was her name being called at the ceremony.

“I was really surprised, my boyfriend had to poke me and be like you have to stand up,” she said.

“It was really nice for community social work to be recognised.”

The Imagined Futures program, which she works on, has a partnership with the South West Metropolitan Partnership Forum for at risk children.

Originally for primary school students the program has expanded into high schools in the metro area.

“It is a resilience program started to approve those school student with low attendance rates,” Ms Ryan said.

“We saw that primary school-aged kids with attendance rates around 40 to 45 per cent in just a couple of year go to 80-90per cent attendance.

“When they moved to high school we saw those rates drop and the kids were getting into trouble more.

“We did an activity with children eight to nine years old to make a time machine and we took them to the ‘future’.

“We first went to 50 years and they all pretended to be really old with walking frames.

“The next time we went to 10 years (in the future) and most of the kids were pretending to be drunk, smoking cones, fighting; this is what they thought there future would look like in 10 years (time).

“We want to show them that not all adults do that and your future doesn’t have to be that.”

Ms Ryan said there were a range of success stories with kids going troublemakers to leaders.

“One boy arrived at primary school and he was trouble all the time but we saw leadership potential in him,” she said.

“He became a leader in our group and through that we found he has a love of music and now he DJs at lunchtime two days a week and mentors other students if they keep getting in trouble.”

The program hopes to start a PCYC for Hilton kids to provide breakfast and homework support this year.

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