Youth Leadership Festival August 2023

Submitted by Analytics oa on 14 Sep 2023
14 Sep 2023

Canteen delivered its Youth Leadership Festival over 3 days in August to more than 70 young people aged 16-25 who have been impacted by cancer. Canteen’s young leaders travelled from across the nation to the Mercure Hotel in Sydney for a weekend of unity, inspiration, and empowerment, demonstrating once again why youth leadership is part of Canteen’s DNA.

The festival's kick-off on Friday morning was nothing short of spectacular, thanks to our MCs, Jupiter and Nate. Their infectious energy set the tone for an unforgettable weekend. Uncle Matthew Doyle graced us with a Welcome to Country followed by a Haka Pōwhiri performed by Sydney-based kapa haka group led by Kiri Barber.

Tiff Hunt, Chief Human Resource Officer at presenting partner LagardereAWPL, delivered a warm welcome speech which explained why leadership training is so important in her role. She was joined by eight members of the senior leadership team who spent time getting to know attendees and connecting deeply with Canteen’s cause. LagardereAWPL played a significant role in making sure many of our young leaders could attend the festivities by generously contributing funds for their travel – with some coming as far as Perth and New Zealand.

Throughout the day, our young leaders were treated to a diverse range of experiences. Shane Donaldson inspired us with his "cup half full" perspective on life, everyone got involved in a thrilling scavenger hunt, and later we heard heartfelt presentations of ‘Homegrown Heroes’ across Australia and New Zealand. 


Canteen youth leadership festival august 2023

That evening there was a formal dinner where everyone dressed to impress, indulged in some delicious food and danced the night away!

Group shot at the Canteen Youth Leadership Festival 2023
Group shot on the dance floor at the Canteen Youth Leadership Festival 2023
Group shot at the Canteen Youth Leadership Festival 2023

By the start of Day two, the energy at the Youth Leadership Festival was palpable. The morning commenced with energising get-to-know-you games before our young leaders heard from motivational speaker Kath Koschel. Kath’s impactful keynote about overcoming life-changing events and discovering the power of kindness produced tears and was undeniably a festival highlight.


three Canteen leaders at the Canteen Youth Leadership Festival 2023


“Kath’s keynote was by far the most impactful and thought provoking I have ever seen. It was the perfect mix of emotion, action and personal experience, and I loved how she acknowledged our experiences and how that made us unique from other audiences.” 


After morning tea, everyone dived into workshops, with Mark Collard’s ‘Facilitation Skills’ workshop and YARN’s ‘How to Acknowledge Country’ really resonating with our young leaders.


“The YARN created such a warm and welcoming environment for us to learn. That was my first time participating in a cultural activity of that kind and learning to dance. I really loved the opportunity.”


Some free time allowed everyone to head out and use the Chatime vouchers they received. A big thank you to Chatime for providing our young people with the perfect refreshment while they digested everything they learnt.


two Canteen leaders with Chatime drinks


The festivities continued into the evening with a pizza and pyjama party.A huge thanks to The Oodie for generously donating 85 Oodies, keeping Canteen's young leaders warm and cozy for Saturday's movie night. 


Canteen leaders wearing oodies


Day 3 commenced with another spirited morning led by Nate and Jupiter. The Annual General Meeting offered a behind-the-scenes glimpse of Canteen's operations, leaving a lasting impression on our young leaders.


“As it was my first leadership festival I found it really interesting to attend an AGM, I didn't really have any idea of what goes on behind the scenes at Canteen. I found it really interesting to see how the financial side of things worked and Maddy did an amazing job speaking.”


As the festival drew to a close, farewells were exchanged, both to new and old friends. Excitement lingered in the air, with everyone eagerly anticipating the next opportunity to reunite after a weekend filled with shared memories, learning, laughter and leadership.


big group photo of the attendees of the Canteen Youth Leadership Festival 2023