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Earlier this year, Integra Group supported a Social Innovators program run by Crazy Ideas College, and was fortunate to hear some brilliant, community-enriching ideas from young people across Ballarat.

In a stroke of serendipity, one of these clever ideas was pitched by the daughter of one of our own at Integra.

Year 8 student, Hayley Oldaker, daughter of Senior Civil Designer, Tim, pitched, with her team, the idea for a Life Camp, a festival to help young people learn to ‘adult’.

The festival is aimed at providing a safe space for young people to explore and discover their passions and interests, while teaching young people things about ‘the real world’ they haven’t been taught in school, such as improving financial literacy, learning how to manage taxes, and how to budget.

Integra Group was in attendance as Hayley and her team pitched their idea to a host of community partners across Ballarat, and has seen the idea grow from an initial scribble on a sticky note, to a prototype for a video on financial literacy, and even an attendance for the team at the Ballarat Youth Awards.

For Tim, he says the Social Innovators program provided the opportunity for Hayley to step into her own agency, and that having community partners interact with young people means the students know their ideas matter.

“They’re things that you wouldn’t think Year 8 students could come up with, it’s really eye-opening to see what these kids could do. It was really positive,” he said.

“It’s just a positive step forward in the education process, for them to be able to engage with the world like this and open up their minds and share their thoughts.”

For Hayley, the shake-up to the usual school day and the involvement of outside partners was an exciting prospect.

“This wasn’t just an assignment. We all worked so much harder than we do in class. Community partners were asking questions to us, they were getting involved, and it felt like our ideas mattered more than just what happens in the classroom,” said Hayley.

Integra has supported the Social Innovators Program in Ballarat over the last 2 years, and Tim recognises the similar values of both Integra and the program.

“Integra, obviously we’re big about building communities, it’s one of our driving mottos. That’s the whole crux of [the program],” he said.

Tim says the notion of businesses recognising the value young people can bring to innovation is something that will develop over time but that the positive reception in the workplace to Integra’s involvement is ensuring the notion is shifting.

“We’ve been lining up in the company to go to these [programs], just simply from the positive energy that’s coming out of it,” he said.

For Hayley, she is encouraging the staff at her school to enrol the students in this program again.

“We all loved it so much, and enjoyed it so much. It was such a fun two days that we wanted everyone else to do the same thing,” she said.

“There’s so many different ways they help you to build your ideas, in a way that you can build such a good product.”

For the team at Life Camp, they will be given time in class to work with their STEM teachers to take their idea to the next level, building on their initial prototype video to create their first of three full episodes focused on improving young people’s financial literacy and understanding of the world.

We’ll be following along with Hayley and the team as they continue to work to bring their crazy good idea to life, and we can’t wait to see what they come up with.