Dana Flahavin: Changing the world, one step at a time

After attending The National Young Leaders Day in 2013, high school student Dana Flahavin was so inspired to spread the event’s message “I am somebody” that she decided to organise her very own initiative, Change Your World Day.

It was not only hearing the leadership stories from speakers like Tim Costello, CEO of World Vision in the program that ignited her passion and desire to make a difference. Dana also participated in 10,000 Ideas, a film initiative that runs on the day giving students a chance to share their ideas for a better world. “Being able to have my voice heard and share this sense of empowerment with others left me feeling really inspired to put my ideas into action," she says. Eager to share her new leadership insights with the rest of her school community, she set out to turn her ideas into a reality...

Held at her school, Mirboo North Secondary College, Change Your World Day sought to create an opportunity for all students to have their voice heard and provide a platform through which they could come together and educate one another on world issues. The program was designed to empower students with the belief and confidence that they all have the influence, ability and opportunity to make a difference in the world.

“Far too often, I had heard fellow students saying things like “I wish I could do that" or "I can’t because..."

“I wanted all students at my school to have the same opportunity I had at The National Young Leaders Day and to walk away believing they are somebody who can make a difference and achieve their dreams.”

Dana personally invited guest speakers including author and explorer Tim Cope, environmental activist and Melbourne city councillor Arron Wood, and former aerial Olympic skier Kristie Marshall to share their real-life experience with students. The Kids Teaching Kids program (founded by Arron Wood) saw students in years 7-8 rotate around interactive workshops facilitated by a group of year 8 students which focused on topics like healthy living and the environment. Activities like hand painting were utilised as a medium through which students could document their ideas and have a say on how they would like to make a difference on issues they care about.

Student-run presentations were organised in order to start conversations about a wide range of world issues, including environmental protection, racism, self-identity and healthy eating. These presentations saw dozens of students spontaneously get up to share their pledges for action, creating an empowering and inspiring movement. Barbecues and busking activities were also held to raise money for charities like World Vision adding to the days atmosphere.

The flow-on effect of Dana’s initiative was impressive with the event reaching 400 fellow students in total. As you can imagine, pulling off an event like this was no easy task! School Captain at the time and studying for her final exams, she was no doubt faced with her fair share of commitments and pressures. However, Dana took it all in her stride, planning the event in her spare time and learning many invaluable leadership skills in the process.

“I learned how to communicate my ideas to a range of committees. I learned how to turn any moment of fear into a moment of opportunity. Most of all, I learned how to lead a team and encourage them with the enthusiasm I had for the event.”

Students had the opportunity to participate in a unique and valuable leadership experience that encouraged them to pursue their passions and not be afraid to create change. At the same time they were exposed to public speaking and the nature of events. “I finally started believing that I could do anything, no matter how crazy or wild it sounds," said Year 10 student, Riona.

Dana’s hard work and dedication, which endured through many other school and community projects, even earned her a finalist’s position for the VCE Leadership Awards in 2014!

At Halogen, we believe any young person with initiative, passion and commitment can accomplish extraordinary things and be an inspiration to the countless others around them. Dana’s story is an inspiring example of this. After such an incredible achievement, we can only imagine what she will be up to in the future!

Are their any great student-led initiatives going on in your school? Comment below to share!

You can also drop us a line via australia@halogenfoundation.org


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