In just three years Jake Berthelot has gone from REAL Program participant, to Peer Leader and KGI Team Captain at YMCA’s Youth Parliament.

Jake, 17 years, is a Potawurutj Padthaway man raised in Melbourne. He has been an active member of the Korin Gamadji Institute (KGI) family from the organisation’s early days.

He has since taken part in another three REAL Programs and become a beloved member of the REAL Program Alumni.

“When you participate in these camps you learn and build on many values, but personally the most important is the determination to pursue your dreams,” Jake said.

Jake was recently invited by the KGI to return as a Peer Leader because he has demonstrated leadership attributes outside of the program and for his general enthusiasm and participation in KGI activities.

In this role, Jake’s responsibilities were managing the participant group, referring any issues or situations that participants aren’t comfortable with to the camp co-ordinator, positively engaging with the group, providing role modelling, advice and assisting participants to make friendships and feel comfortable.

“Coming back as a Peer Leader on the REAL Program was such an honour,” he said.

Jake’s leadership abilities were once again on show when he joined four KGI Alumni to participate in YMCA’s Youth Parliament.

Jake Berthelot, Dylan Burns, Lillian Arnold-Rendell, Kzanne Atkinson and Tahlia Biggs were the first all-Indigenous Youth Parliament team in 2013.

“To be part of the first Indigenous team holds a very strong place in my heart. Our team fought for the right to have ‘cultural education’ mandatory within the school curriculum until VCE/VCAL and we had the bill successfully passed.”

“Every member of our KGI team believes in this so strongly and to show the power of raw motivation, was just extraordinary,” Jake said.

This year Jake will be returning to Youth Parliament as the KGI Team Captain to debate a bill pushing for plain packaging on alcohol.

“To return to Youth Parliament for the second time as the leader for the KGI Team means a lot to me. I am humbled that I was chosen to lead this team and debate our bill, hopefully for a second ‘passing of the bill’.”

Jake and the team will be attending the YMCA Youth Parliament in July.

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