There is no doubt that early experiences in life have a huge impact on our leadership potential as adults.
It is well documented that communication, problem solving skills, organization, flexibility and creativity build self confidence in children. Moorambilla has a nine-year track record in building children’s capacity to become leaders. Here are three examples from the MAXed OUT Company.
For a start, encouraging children to pursue things that interest them means they develop a passion for it, feel comfortable and are more likely to take on a leadership role in the future.
Annabelle Park, from Coonabarabran High School, remembers the moment she left the stage at the end of her first Moorambilla Gala Concert last year, when she was in year 7. “I loved that performance so much, I remember feeling I was a different person. I realized I’d changed. The person that just performed in that concert was different to the person I had been just a few months before.”
Annabelle says she doesn’t need formal validation of her leadership skills – she knows that she has found something that she is very good at, feels at home with and wants to excel in. It gives her the confidence to say: “I know I’m good at this. It makes me a stronger and confident person. I don’t really need a leadership position to be given to me here, I just do what I do best and excel in that.”
Annabelle is proud to have been given a role in the concert – the company follows her lead she they fold their Japanese fans and they must look to her as she leads the bow at the end of the concert.
“Annabelle has developed so much in the two years she has been here,” says Education Consultant Margie Moore. “She knows the importance of giving her all, and the other children watch that and model it. Even though she is quite young, she has an incredible leadership ability.”
Dyllan Crocket is the school captain of Binnaway Central School. A boy with self proclaimed shyness, who says he doesn’t like being in charge, at Moorambilla Dyllan will take initiative, take ownership of a situation and do his best to improve it – cleaning up, helping to organize meals, spotting when jobs need doing, responding whenever asked to by the Moorambilla Mum Dianne Holz.
“Moorambilla helps me to concentrate and keep on top of my shyness and nervousness,” says Dyllan. “Once in English the teacher asked me to read out the textbook and I had a panic attack. That has never happened at Moorambilla. What I learn here about focus has helped me in some ways to stay like that.”
When I first started in year 7 I was picked out as one of four to play the taiko – I was given an important job. I was nervous about that but then I realised that it’s no longer about me – it’s about the entire piece of music.
“Michelle told me to just go with it – make it look good. And that has really helped me. It stops me thinking about anxiety.”
“The other advantage of this program is that I’m not with these kids in the playground at school in Binnaway. There are only 50 people in our high school – so it’s a small playground. As I don’t really see the Moorambilla kids as often it gives me a sort of freedom to be whoever I am.
“You have to know how to pay attention here. Ability to see the bigger picture really helps. When you are putting a concert together, you learn bits and pieces of different dances and then it all comes together. When we get to the gala concert we need to see the bigger picture. And respect. That’s very important.
Domanic Lugli, from Coonabarabran High School, has grown up in Moorambilla, from a young timid and shy seven year old boy starting out in Moorambilla Voices, Dom has developed incredible focus on and off stage. Domanic is always demonstrating to the other students who are new into the project what is expected of their behavior, in rehearsal and on stage and behind the scenes at camp.
“Moorambilla has made me push myself towards changing,” says Dom. “It’s made me more responsible for things, so I stop the other kids from talking, stuff like that, you know, to focus. Everyone in MAXed OUT helps everyone else because you need to have confidence to get up on stage and practice – you need persistence and you need to stick with it, not get angry and keep going.”
The skills, experiences and teaching style at Moorambilla has turned many shy and unsure teenagers into leaders and achievers. They learn the ability to understand and deal with others, crucial for children from remote and regional areas. Their need for achievement, confidence and assertiveness are not only encouraged but nurtured in the rehearsals and performances.
Text and photography: Lliane Clarke