Canteen's Youth Leadership Festival shows our future is in good hands - and hearts

Submitted by Analytics oa on 30 Jan 2023
30 Jan 2023

What do you get when you mix tomorrow’s leaders with today’s top-performing artists, activists and entrepreneurs? Three days of innovation, inspiration, lots of laughter – and the start of lifelong friendships.

That’s what transpired at Canteen’s latest Youth Leadership Festival held at Sydney’s Hilton Hotel over the weekend, from January 27 to 29.

Under the theme of ‘Dare to Grow’, over 100 young leaders from Canteen Australia and CanTeen Aotearoa, who are all impacted by cancer, gathered alongside keynote speakers and strategic partners to develop effective leadership skills for tomorrow’s world. And Dare to Grow they did.

“After being truly inspired by our young leaders of past, present and future over the weekend, there is no doubt in my mind that Canteen is heading into a golden era of strong, intelligent and compassionate leadership,” said Leanne Davis, Youth Leadership Manager at Canteen Australia.

“The amount of talent and inspired thought leadership – all underpinned with a true sense of empathy and compassion – shows me that Canteen is in safe hands now and going into the future.”


Connecting with our Kiwi friends

As well as developing new skills, the festival provided a wonderful opportunity for our young people to network and connect with like-minded peers from here and across the ditch in Aotearoa.

“It was cool to share this event with other young leaders from CanTeen Aotearoa,” said Jack and Ash, the Canteen MCs for the event. “As well as being there to learn from each other, we found we had plenty in common – and also had a good laugh!”


Personal development – with a side of fun

The annual event has been designed to inspire young people to take up leadership and excel within and beyond Canteen.

Over three inspiration-packed days, the young leaders engaged in skill-building talks, panel discussions and workshops. Standouts on Friday and Saturday included an inspiring talk on Cultural Competency by First Nations artist Jasmine Sarin and workshops on public speaking and self-empowerment. The festival wound up on Sunday with a discussion on leadership in business, the launch of Canteen Australia’s new podcast series, Cancer Unscripted, and TED Talks by Canteen employees.

But perhaps the real highlight came on Saturday night when our young participants were given the chance to party with sea creatures at a special dinner and CanGreen-themed cocktail party at Sea Life aquarium. It’s safe to say the night went swimmingly! (Sea what we did there.)


A smashing success

Feedback from the festival was excellent, with many saying it was Canteen’s biggest and best to date. Our young leaders were provided the opportunity to create meaningful and international peer-support networks, develop skills for a dynamic youth leadership culture in Canteen and enable participation in the governance of our organisation and beyond.

Canteen is unique (and awesome!) because youth leadership is in our DNA and at the heart of everything we do. Our organisation was founded by a group of young cancer patients in 1985, and we still have young people involved at every level of leadership, including our Board of Directors.

We would like to say a huge thank you to the Leadership Festival’s presenting partner, Lagardere AWPL, for their generous support of the event and for their commitment to helping young people impacted by cancer.  Thank you for being such a big part of this important community event and for all that you’ve done to support Canteen over the past 16 years.

To find out more about youth leadership at Canteen, visit Youth Leadership.