On Wednesday 30 May, 22 Year 9 students attended the yLead Altitude Day at Brisbane City Hall, along with 800 Year 9 students from schools across south-east Queensland. The day was about connecting with peers, stepping out of comfort zones and making new friends, as well as hearing from a range of inspirational speakers, who all wanted to make a difference to the lives of young people.
One of the guest speakers at the yLead Altitude Day was Barnaby Howarth. He spoke of the importance of “giving life a good crack” and “being a solid bloke”. Barnaby Howarth was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 14. However, he did not let this stop him from following his dreams. He followed his passion for AFL and started playing for the Sydney Swans at the age of 18. At the time, he believed this was the start of a long and heroic career of success and wealth.
Unfortunately, his plans were disrupted in 2005 in an alcohol-fuelled fight. Howarth was beaten, and later that week, had a stroke. This was when his perspective changed. Suddenly, life was not all about winning and fame, but about trying your absolute hardest and being a decent person.
While Barnaby Howarth’s life was full of obstacles, he eventually overcame every single one by trying his hardest, and through the support of those around him. He is now a successful, inspirational speaker, has played 100 games of AFL for his local club, has climbed Mt Kilimanjaro and walked the Kokoda trail.
His stories taught us that life isn’t just about winning; that we should try our hardest at everything we do and still be proud of the effort that we put in. Altogether Barnaby Howarth was an excellent speaker that taught us many things throughout his speech.
Rowie McEvoy was the final speaker for Altitude Day, and she spoke about personal happiness. Rowie was a self-confessed 'fat girl with pimples on her face', and felt hated by everyone at her Melbourne boarding school. Her moment of change came the day the school held an aerobics fitness class at the school, and she set about proving all her doubters wrong about her. After finishing the fitness class, Rowie passionately decided that she wanted to be a fitness instructor, despite her father’s desire for her to become a lawyer. You can imagine how angry he was when she told him her real dream!
Rowie spoke to the group about following her passion throughout her life, well into her fifties (where she is now) and is still feeling great. She spoke of her love of animals, and how to stay happy. Rowie’s message was encouraging each of us to follow our hearts, believe in ourselves, and she shared tips on how to be happy.
Her simple message was happy stood for: H for Healthy – eat healthy foods, and drink lots of water, A for Action – Stay active and fit, P for Passion – Be passionate about what you do, P for Positive – Every Cloud has a silver-lining and Y for Yourself – always be yourself.
Rowie truly motivated and empowered us as leaders, to do what you believe in, and to get back up again if life pushes you down.
Hannah Schultz and Remi Thiesfield, Year 9