SHOOTING hoops at a Midland park to help indigenous youngsters stay out of trouble, has turned into a full-time job for Swan View resident Matthew Bill (22), a finalist in this year’s WA Youth Awards.
Mr Bill is employed as a youth outreach worker by the Shire of Mundaring where he works tirelessly with families in the community to help them be actively involved in their children’s lives.
“A few years ago I started playing basketball with kids in a park on Hooley Road for a few hours after school to give them something to do,” he said.
“Then schools started asking me to hang out with kids who were running amok and see if I could keep them in class.”
Fast forward three years and Mr Bill now mentors students from four primary schools and a high school, helping those who are truant from class, suspended from school or at risk of disengagement in the education system.
This year, he developed a yarning circle at a local primary school so younger students could interact with older boys from the nearby high school, to make the transition to high school easier and give older students leadership opportunities.
Mr Bill also spends his own time to mentor young people, even picking them up to get them to school.
“Every morning with my pop we drive around picking up kids, we give them breakfast and get them to school for the day,” he said.
“I love seeing kids get an opportunity and giving it a crack by giving them the tools to succeed.
“A lot of these kids don’t have a male role model for a bunch of different reasons, but drugs and alcohol are a huge issue leading to either parents not being there or ending up in jail.”
Mr Bill said he was shocked to be nominated in the WA Youth Awards which recognise young Western Australians aged 12 to 25 years for their achievements and contributions to the community.
“It’s wicked o be recognised, especially in the community leader category,” he said.
Winners of the WA Youth Awards will be announced on Thursday, October 12 at the State Theatre Centre.