The Young Christian Students (YCS) group at St Luke’s Catholic College Marsden Park was established this year. Together we have explored a range of issues that we view as important in our world today. In Term 1, we began with an inward look to increasing belonging at St Luke’s for students. In Term 2, we delved into racial stereotyping as it was an issue most of our members had faced in their lifetime. Finally, this past term, we have been exploring the connection between environment and mental health as they were both issues that our members were passionate about.
Being a part of YCS has allowed all of us to find ways in which we can make a difference in the world, whether it be big or small. We were all able to understand the importance of caring for social justice issues that are present within today’s society. Although our journey has just started, we were all able to contribute in a small way already which has been very fulfilling.
“YCS to me is a way to help the community, and I attend to help with projects that are going on,” said Billy, a Year 7 YCS member.
For Term 3 of YCS, we planned a Q&A event that touched on the topic of mental health and its relationship with the environment. Our team invited a range of panellists who answered pre-prepared questions with insightful responses. It was interesting to see the different perspectives from professionals, teachers and even from a student. The panellists were:
- Sebastian Salaske-Lentern, Justice, Peace and Ecology Coordinator of the Diocese of Parramatta.
- Claire Thomas, NSW Schools and Community Engagement Manager at Jesuit Social Services.
- Meike Corbin, Science teacher and Wellbeing Coordinator at St Luke’s Catholic College.
- Alicja Borcuich, Parramatta Young Christian Workers Secretary and Climate justice advocate
- Reese Nunez, Year 10 student at St Luke’s Catholic College
As a team, the YCS leaders, with the support of the YCS members, were able to come to a realisation of the link between our mental health and the environment we are in. Thus, the idea of exploring the connection between the two became the focus of our action. We, as a team, had realised that due to the current situation we are in, we were stuck in the same environment for a prolonged period, and we discovered the impact this would have on our mental health. We wanted to look for ways to improve upon our mental health as this was a priority in the lives of many individuals, while also advocating for the climate crisis our world is facing.
The panellists were asked questions ranging from the link between the environment and mental health, the impact of this problem on young people, ways we can solve these concurrent issues, and the connection to contemporary events and issues that have a direct effect on the environment and mental health.
When asked about the impacts of the climate crisis on the youth, one panellist explained, “The future generation is concerned for what is to come, which is why major change is needed to sustain our world before it is too late.
“These environmental issues that are going on could potentially affect the mental health of the youth, therefore impacting how they decide to live their everyday lives.
“As a whole, we should become more aware and educated about just how severe environmental issues are nowadays.
“To better our community, we all need every individual’s contribution to making a positive impact on the environment such as avoiding basic practices that will negatively impact the environment as yes we can be holding events not only to raise awareness, although to raise more funds so that we can further help those who are need of our help to solve issues such as climate change,” they said.
Despite not being able to do the event face to face, we feel that this online event was a success, as we were not only able to find a link between two major issues in our world, but also bring light to different organisations, groups and individuals that can work together to solve this in our local community.
We hope that this will be able to inspire change in the issues discussed and enable the older, present, and future generations to strive to make a difference whilst we still have time to do so.
Watch the panel discussion hosted by the St Luke’s YCS here or below.
With thanks to the YCS student group at St Luke’s Catholic College Marsden Park.