Seven Percent - Micah's Lions Youth of The Year Speech

Seven percent – for the class of 2024, 7% of our school life remains. img_1440-1.jpg

6 years turned into one,

And one year into six months.

And sometime, between now, and then, the annoying year 7s became the big kids… ready to take on the world.

Good evening, all, Lions Club members, and honourable guests. My name is Micah Renton, and it is with great pride, and honour, that I stand before you today.

Over the last few weeks, I have contemplated on the thought of graduating high school – a concept that is becoming increasingly real for the class of 2024.

And I have come to realise that, leaving… is hard.

For me, it is leaving the community that has nurtured my growth and development over the last 5 years… to leave a place that feels like home.

A core memory that comes to mind from my school years, is the last lap of cross country – when I am on the verge of collapsing, and the lead runner has, of course, already overtaken me. My friends and I would sprint the final 100m, to try and beat one another. But I wish I had slowed down, because a few weeks ago was my final cross country, and not once over the previous 5 did I even consider how much I was going to miss it.

I ask you to reflect for a moment on the end of your high school years.

  • What would you do if you could start again?
  • Would you choose the same path?
  • Take up a passed opportunity?

I asked my eldest brother this the other day.

He works as a support worker, aiding those living with mental health challenges, and disabilities – an admirable career in my opinion.

He said he would not change his path – he would simply focus less on the fear of what others thought of him.

Throughout his journey, he has face severe anxiety and depression, and consequently spent a lot of time in hospital, facing some dark times, as did our family. And we nearly lost him –

But he found his purpose, in caring for, and supporting others.

Alarmingly, over 40% of 16- to 24-year-olds report living with mental health disorders. That stat is scary to me. Indeed, the leading cause of death in young Western Australians is suicide.

Raise your hand if you have seen the rainbow arch at Beach Reserve in Fremantle. It is a beautiful arch; however, it represents the heart-breaking suicide of a past CBC student, Kai Fella in 2016.

CBC is currently running workshops in honour of Kai, which aim to empower the youth to confidently navigate a world of expectations, demands, and emotional complexity.

Kai was a brilliant footy player, cross country athlete, and skateboarding champion, university student, but sadly he felt he had no voice.

Throughout your life, what struggles shaped you into the person you are today? A person who possesses the benevolent characteristic of dedication to supporting others.

Personally, I have struggled with anxiety – a cycle of overthinking that consumes me.

I recently studied a model known as the interdimensional model of wellbeing. It studies the four key facets of wellbeing, including the physical, social, mental, and spiritual. And I learnt that wellbeing is maximised when these four aspects are balanced.

Which is why through engaging in community minded activities – such as volunteering or sport – fill us with a sense of purpose.

However, social media defines the modern age, and its promotion of hedonistic, and materialistic paradigms deprives us of our innate vocation to service and connection with others – and thereby, restricts our wellbeing.

The overconsumption of social media amongst youth seems to be a factor in the trend of mental health disorders.

Reflecting on the last few years, I have noticed that the key to a balanced, and healthy life, is finding a voice, a purpose, and love.

For instance, the other week, I was very nervous before a chemistry test – as I am sure my fellow ATAR students may relate – and my friend Finn, noticing I was nervous, sat with me, and talked about our upcoming weekend beach adventure – it was a small act of love, but I now realise that is all it takes.

It is so easy to get caught up in the chaos of our daily lives – assignments, speeches, tests, and work – that we fail to appreciate the beauty of everything around us.

So, my goal, is to contradict this correlation, and immerse myself in acts of service and connection with others, until I too, find my purpose.

Thank you for listening.