Northside Rising is an Inspiring Communities initiative. Learn more about the Northside Changemakers program here.
The Northside Changemakers Program was developed as a way to celebrate and empower changemakers on the Northside. We wanted to develop a program which would not only grow skills and connections from people on the Northside but also foster hope and the idea that people can be the change that they wish to see. There are already so many people on the Northside doing amazing things, we simply want to provide a forum to showcase them.
The program itself is aimed to fund and support a pilot community project or initiative, while also delivering project management skills alongside a team of other changemakers. As well as designing and implementing community projects, participants also receive certification in community action skills such as Mental Health First Aid, Naloxone Training and Non-Violent Crisis Intervention.
This blog series showcases each participant’s journey. The changemaker we would like to introduce this week is Felicity Clarkson.
Felicity Clarkson: Your Anxiety Journal
Felicity created approx 40 “anxiety bags” to be distributed to youth centres across the Northside ( Five Eleven Youth and Family Centre, Clifford Street Youth Centre, Community Cares Youth Outreach). These bags included: coloring books, colored pencils, fidget spinners, mints and a pamphlet they created which not only shared their own story about anxiety but also signs of anxiety and depression as well as resources around the Northside.
Tell me a little bit about yourself
Hi, my name is Felicity (they/them). I am twenty two years old. Originally, I was from Alder Point but have lived in North Sydney for years.
I live with my partner (Dylan) and we have two gerbils (Oliver and Jasper), two fish (Blue and Memento Mori) and a rat (Brownie).
I like to play video games. I work (a lot) and volunteer at 511 Youth and Family Centre.
I have been volunteering at the Youth Centre since 2018. I love the work I do there so much! They have changed who I am as a person. Working there has really inspired me both personally and professionally. It’s a space which is so positive that it radiates on to others, including myself. It changes people.
They accept anyone, no matter your age, background or history. Knowing places like that exist, and getting to be a part of it has really given me direction — knowing I want to work and help within my community.
What makes you jump out of bed in the morning
Being late! Ahahaha! That definitely gets me jumping out of bed. But on a serious note: Going and doing something – whether it is work, volunteering, a drive… just knowing I have a plan and something to do.
How did you hear about this program?
I knew a friend who had information regarding the Changemakers Program. They recommended that I apply, so I reached out for more information and it looked like a really good fit. I just figured I would apply and see what happens!
How did your project begin, what made you start thinking about it?
I wanted to do something physical, that you could hand to someone. I wanted mine to be centered around “giving” to others. In the beginning of the program, we were taught grounding exercises. It was at that moment that I realized I hadn’t had access to such tools when I was younger and how helpful they were. I wanted to give people information regarding other coping mechanisms and resources that may not have access to them.
When you think of the word Changemaker, does anyone you know come to mind?
When I hear the word changemaker, I think of someone who is optimistic and willing to make change. People who are willing to take on tasks others may not want to. Someone brave enough, and positive enough to really work to make a difference.
What do you love about the Northside?
I love the fact that everyone, somehow (in some shape or form) knows one another. You feel like you are in the city during the day but once eight o’clock rolls around it’s quiet, no cars, noise. All of the schools are close together- so there are a bunch of different ways that kids can be friends with other students. Simply put, I just like how connected we are.
Tell me about your favorite childhood memory about the Northside?
I think for me, it was my grandparents would take me to Christies beach at the bottom of Johnsons Rd and then they would take me to Georges River for Ice cream and then we would continue out to Scotch Lake and upper North Sydney , stopping at Indian Beach to play at the playground or just watch the boats in the water. We are so lucky to be surrounded by such accessible water sources.
What are your hopes for the Northside?
I hope that we can get more opportunities, individually and collectively. It would be so great if there were more things for people to do. Right now as a kid — there is stuff to do (playground, etc.) and when you’re older there are restaurants to meet your friends. But those in the middle, there is really nothing for them. Would love to see that change.
Why is that hope important to you/ the community?
I grew up in Alder Point with absolutely nothing to do — there were no kids around. You get bored, just being by yourself. You wake up, go to school and go to bed. At least if you have something, anything it gives you something to look forward to, something to remember.
What is your best tip for making the world a better place?
Be open minded, and be kind. Every person is different . Even if you don’t agree with it — just accept it and move on. It’s simple really, just don’t be an a**hole!
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