Mosman Youth Centre aims to support, promote and facilitate opportunities for young people to fulfil passion projects, designing music events, lead charity fundraisers and much more. These individual stories aim to provide a suitable spotlight for local Mosman young people who have demonstrated ongoing dedication to their initiative and are willing to share their journey that led them to where they are today.
Meet James Ferry, a Year 12 student at St. Aloysius’ College, who recently shone on the global stage at the International Earth Science Olympiad. He clinched silver medals in both the data mining test and the National Team Field Investigation, showcasing his exceptional talents
James is more than just an academic star; he’s a dedicated community contributor. He’s been actively involved in our youth center’s volunteering programs and even taken on leadership roles at Taronga Zoo Volunteering Program. We’ve had the privilege of knowing James for six years, and we’re thrilled to share his incredible journey.
Explore his interview, where James shares his experiences and exemplifies what remarkable opportunities await when you’re fully committed. Don’t miss out on James’s inspiring story of dedication and achievement! 🌠✨
Would you mind telling us a bit about yourself ?
I’m in year 12 in Mosman High, I love art and music and I’m a regular at the youth centre. I’ve been coming to the youth centre since year 11, I use the space to chill, hangout with friends and play D&D and pool (like 5 times a week)
Congratulations again on winning the Mosman Youth Art Prize!!! What was it like when you first heard your name announced and realised that you were the winner?
I saw who came second and I was like “I don’t stand a chance here.” And so I kind of stopped paying attention. So I didn’t really hear my name being announced and my art teacher and my friend who was standing behind me both pushed me forward. They’re like “You won!” and so my initial reaction was just very confused.
Haha so you were in a bit of a shock?
Yeah I didn’t really process it.
And when you did process it, what were you feeling?
It kind of felt a bit surreal, like my artwork was like this tiny little thing surrounded by these really big amazing artworks and so I was surprised that they had noticed it in shock.
It must have given you a lot of confidence after.
Yes I was very happy and it gave me a lot of motivation to work on my major as I was procrastinating and had been struggling to work on it.
Can you tell me a bit about your art work?
It’s a sketch with just pretty much just pen on paper. There’s nothing else that I’ve used and it’s just this small little house on the side of a mountain in the town that my mum grew up in QLD. It’s a pretty unremarkable house, it’s just a typical QLD house you can find anywhere.
And ou take a photo of what you want to sketch, and you sketch that exact photo?
Yeah, I draw a rough sketch in pencil 1st and then I go over it with a pen. But like the sketch might take 30 minutes with the pencil. And then the pen will take like 40 hours.
I remember when I first saw your artwork I was in awe. Looking at the fine details I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is not a photo? actually a drawing?” And I really felt like you captured the nostalgy of the moment. Can you tell me what inspired you to create this artwork for your major?
I had no idea what I wanted to do. In year 11, because they want you to think about it. But I knew that I liked working with pens and at the time, I hadn’t been back to QLD since COVID, so three years. And I really missed it. after COVID, when we had a trip upcoming, I was thinking about the trip a lot. And I just wanted to think of things that reminded me of Queensland, and I guess houses were something that reminded me of QLD. not something that tourists would look at. I think about the when I land in Cairns, and I look out the I see these houses. That’s what represents QLD to me. And these houses don’t change much overtime, same for house that they’ve up in, although things around their home might have changed, became modern, but the house still looks the same. And grandpa talks about that quite a lot.
the houses kind of represent for you, the people, the memory, the time that passed.
My grandpa had a best and she was 97 and she lived in the same house. All her life, and it was. The highest house the highest point of the town, and you can see the whole town. And she had all these photos of the town, growing and expanding and changing. That left a strong impression on and I remember looking being like this house has so many memories.
I love that. And I remember you saying capturing those moments and memories felt very close to your heart.
Yeah, well I guess QLD always felt like a second home, so. I’ve always wanted to be more connected to that place. So, I guess the artwork also a longing of that place for you.
With the particular medium that you chose for your , how, how did you get into that?
In year nine, we had to do a concertina of it was whatever we wanted it to be and. My cousins had recently bought a house in the Blue Mountains, and it was a very stereotypical Australian house and I decided to draw that. I really liked it, it was very messy, but I really liked working with the pen and that was the first time I’d ever worked with pens. And then in year 11, we had to do another concertina, but this one was Cockatoo Island. And I hadn’t worked with pens since . But I guess with all the experience I had to that point I could see that my skills were much more refined compared to what I did in year 9. And I experimented re-drawing the same house that I did in year 9, and it looked so much better. And that’s what kind of inspired my major work.
I also prefer pens then pencil. I’ve done before, but I could never get the shadows. I could still draw it but I enjoyed with the pens of how you could overdo the shading and it looks the other thing with is you can it with eraser but you can’t undo it. pencil you can blend undo it. With , I like the fact that I work with whatever I decided to do in that moment, even if it’s a mistake, so you work around that, but eventually (if I don’t give up) it comes
Sounds like there’s so much emotional journey in the process!
Yeah, I had a one of my art teachers told me that I needed to add more detail, and maybe more detail in the I purposely hadn’t done the background because the houses are supposed to be quite plain, because they were built in a time where supplies were hard to come by because of war etc. And I purposely had it quite plain. The teacher insisted (And I trust my art teacher a lot!), but I decided to trust in the process and see what happens rather than trying to add more to it. The teacher ended up liking what I had in the end.
would your advice be to a young person who also wants to get better at art?
As a kid, I would basically look at the kind of art that I’m doing now and be like I will never be able to do that. But now, I understand that over time your skills will develop and your ability too. It just takes consistent practice and understanding of how to make things look like in the way you want it too. And also, another piece of advice is like give it time because obviously I couldn’t have done this when I was like 13 and I certainly couldn’t when I was year 9. Just trust the fact that you can get there one day, but it will take practice.
Ziggy volunteering at the Wombat Sanctuary
May 2023 Highlight – Ziggy – Volunteer at Wombat Sanctuary
Hiya ! Could you give me a bit of an intro about yourself?
Hi I’m Ziggy, I’m 18. I went to Mosman High School. I used to come to the youth center quite frequently, almost every day.
I’m a volunteer at a wombat sanctuary. Love, love that! It’s my passion.
I also love arts. I love creating things, but I really love being outside in nature and the bush.
Thanks Ziggy! And so today I wanted to hear your experience volunteering at the wombat sanctuary.
I’ve been doing it for I think since 2018 now, maybe 2019. And I, I mostly work with the Joeys, so the younger wombats. I do a lot of bottle feeding, early mornings, a lot of, a lot of cleaning. Um, but it’s really rewarding work. I also help organize other volunteers.
Wow so you’ve been doing this since year 8,9!
It was actually very random how I started because my dad went on long service leave and he really loves Australian animals, and one day during he’s break he was like do you wanna come visit this place with me ? And I was like, sure, why not?
So we were walking around having a great time, having a tour of the sanctuary and it was a very, very hot day. I was wearing all black clothing and I actually fainted and passed out. The organizer of the sanctuary, the woman who owns it, she took care of me but also felt very bad for me. So, she handed me a baby wombat and was like,” I hope this makes you feel better”. I’m really confused at this point. I’m like, what’s going on? But I started bottle feeding the Joey and the sanctuary owner said to me, “Hey, you’re kind of good at this. Do you wanna come back sometime? “And since then I’ve been going back pretty frequently.
And the Sanctuary is quite far right? I think you said it was a 4hr drive just to get there. It’s a big commitment to give up your weekend to volunteer here. What makes you keep going back there?
It’s the mixture of the people, the animals, and just the environment itself. Its so nice when I stand up on the hills surrounded by these animals and just be there and breathe! It is taxing but its great.
Can you also inform us about some of the issues that the wombats are facing?
Probably the biggest struggle is going to be mange. So mange is mite that burrows under the skin. And you can look up pictures of what it’s like, but I won’t describe it because its pretty sad to look at it. Its affecting a large population of wombats all over Australia, but heavily in New South Wales right now which is causing major population decline. Also, obviously, there’s the issue of its habitat loss like every other animal out there right now. Road kill is another thing that’s contributing to the population decline.
How about some fun facts about wombats?
Well, if they have a completely Australian native diet, they will have cubic poop and it smells really bad. And then another thing, they can run pretty fast, up to 40 kilometers an hour. So if you are every getting chased by wombat, go up. Don’t run but climb up.
Another fact is when they are born, they are a size of a jelly bean, just like kangaroos. They are tiny. So they, they are born and then they move to the pouch, they live there for about a year. When they’re in the pouch they face away from the mum’s head because wombats dig burrows and if they have a pouch and when they’re digging, the dirt would get into the pouch so it faces the other way and it’s bums sticking out.
That sounds super adorable! And what are some of the projects your involved in at the moment?
We’re focusing on the older population that cannot be put back into the wild. For example like severely injured animals that wouldn’t survive back out in the wild. With Joey’s there’s plenty of people that wanna look after the Joeys because they are just super cute and lovely. So at the sanctuary we’re focusing on creating more space for the older ones, which means we need to build very study homes for them and also we’re putting a lot of concrete, cuz the wombat just keeps digging.
What’s been some of your special moments volunteering here?
I was looking after a Joey called Pinky she was one of the first joey I looked after til it was ready to go outside. That was quite special because we didn’t think he would make it. But he pulled through and it was absolutely amazing.
Do you have any advice for young people about pursuing their passion projects or trying to find a passion?
Yeah, my just kind of like words of wisdom would be you can never go wrong when pursuing something you love. It’s always gonna turn into something good in your life.
Even though I’m probably not gonna pursue this as a career, it still opened so many doors for me. It’s really taught me so much about life and what I wanna do. So yeah if you have a passion for something, go for it.
And if you’re struggling to find passion…. well for me a lot of the things that I do now, I’ve just kind of stumbled upon through people I know, through my family, through all that stuff. Like I didn’t even want to go to the sanctuary at first but my dad made me, and then I fell in love with it. So always, always take a new opportunity, especially here at the youth centre, like they give you so many opportunities to go try new things. I would take every single opportunity you can because it’s just, it can open up so many doors.
Lastly from all the things you’ve learned thus far in your life what do you think will be the most useful as an adult?
Probably communication with other people and connecting with other people because if without each other you are, you’ve got really nothing. You need other people to really succeed. So if you can connecting with people, that’s a great skills to have in any industry you want to be in.
Eugenia ‘Gigi’ Sheehan
April 2023 Highlight – Eugenia Sheehan – Budding Creative
Would you mind telling us a bit about yourself and
your connection with the Mosman Youth Centre?
My name is Eugenia, and I’m currently 17. I go to the Mosman Youth Centre almost everyday. I started coming as a part of the Viewfinders program
when I was in Year 9, which focused on helping the community through environmental initiatives.
Having attended the Youth Centre since Year 9, can
you recall a certain memorable moment that
happened at the Youth Centre? And or a special event
that you were involved in?
I’ve attended a lot of events at the Youth Center, and some of the most memorable have been the Raise the Youth dance parties, which funnily enough I’ve been involved in planning. The Raise The Youth parties always have a safe and friendly environment and makes for a wonderful way to relax after a stressful time at school.
Yes, we’ve had the pleasure of having you as a volunteer for a
few of our programs at the Youth Centre. Are you involved with any current volunteering?
Yes!, Currently I am part of the Tuesday VolunteerGroup, where we plan different activities. Raise the Youth is an annual event we hold for Youth
Week, a free event for all high school aged kids with lots of dancing and music!
You’ve mentioned to staff that you’ve been working on your major
work for the HSC. How’s that going? And will you be looking to continue this passion as a career moving forward?
My major work is going well! I’ve decided to challenge myself by painting in oils which I haven’t done before, but I think the opportunity to experiment with new mediums helps to inspire me and encourage me to keep going.
Do you have any other current projects or artworks
you are working on outside of school?
I do! Right now I’m designing a couple of badges with some friends as keep sakes for the Mosman Youth Art Prize event. I also have a few personal projects in motion at home, as I have always found art to be such a relaxing hobby. Everyone should check out the Youth Art Prize at the Mosman Art Gallery if you want to see the designs!
Any advice or sage words of wisdom you would give your younger self?
I’m still a teenager right now, but when I was younger, I often held myself to a really high standard, and as I got older, and it became harder to maintain it really impacted my mental health. I think I would tell myself that even if you don’t achieve exactly what you wanted to, doing something is always better than doing nothing! A grade doesn’t determine your knowledge or worth.
If you could invite three people, living or dead, to your
birthday party, who would you choose? And what
would you talk to them about/do?
First of all, at the risk of sounding cliche, I would invite Albert Einstein – I’m really passionate about physics, and it would be so incredible to discuss
his theories of general relativity and how time is relative with the person who thought of them. Secondly, I would invite Ewan Mcgregor, because Star Wars is one of my favorite movie franchises of all time and it would be amazing to hear about what a role like that would entail. Finally I would
invite J.R.R Tolkein, specifically because of my interest in fantasy languages, and although a conversation on different grammar conventions in elvish seems boring, it would be an amazing way to pass the time.
The creators of Cherry Jam – (Left to Right) – Aaron, Seth & Dexter)
Cherry Jam was held in September 2022 and featured 5 other local bands and artists. This entire youth led event, saw over 100 participants enjoy the creative evening!
March 2023 Highlight – Cherry Jam Creators, Musicians & Lifelong Friends!
Would you mind telling us a bit about yourselves and any passions, hobbies or interests you have?
Hi! I’m Aaron Zapower, and I’d say that my main passion is music (which you probably could’ve guessed). I’ve been playing music for around 10 years and it’s been at the centre of my life ever since. I’m in year 12 now, and things have been a bit hectic, but I always try to find time to calm down and play some bass, guitar or banjo.
Hello I’m Dexter Taylor Gibson-Cummins Holman Hoffman Butt III. I’ve been making art in various forms of film, music and drawings since I can remember. I constantly find myself engrossed in mildly inconvenient and unusual situations that tend to fuel my creative doohickies. My current project is finding the balance between self-expression and self-obsession in my new album, WEDNES.
Hey, I’m Seth. I also like music and have been a multi-instrumentalist for about 10 years. My main purpose in my art, whether it be sound, ink on paper or skin, film or written word, my main goal is just to create something that serves as a snapshot of whatever’s going on in my world at the time. It’s important to me that I create something I enjoy but others can derive some sort of feeling from. I also like rain, cats, and Dexter’s shoes.
Congrats on your majorly successful MyProject event that took place at the Youth Centre in September last year. Can you share with us the backstory behind the event, how it came to be and what inspired the name of the event?
It started with Chris (Youth Programs Officer) coming up to us (Seth and Dexter) while we we’re jammin in the Youth Centre’s music room. He gave us the idea of us planning a concert. From there it just sorta worked out and the ball kept rolling. Eventually, Aaron joined the band and the project just kept getting bigger and better. The name came from the original placeholder ‘Jam Night’ and we added the Cherry as a reference to Seth’s old music name ‘churra’.
It’s great to see so many young people pursuing their passions in the area of performing arts. Are there any major aspirations / inspirations that you have as a group or perhaps as individuals?
It’s kinda funny because we all sorta get into the same stuff together more or less. One of us will show up to practice and just chuck on a song they heard and we’ll just end up writing songs just like it for a while. We’re all pretty massive fans of Tyler, the Creator, Ween, Thundercat, Bowie, Mike Krol, Big Thief, Outkast and Andwer. Love Andwer. Aaron loves Hall and Oates and Björk. Dexter fiends over Mark Ronson. Seth is a musical butterfly who flutters his wings every which way.
I’m hearing whispers of a potential Cherry Jam evening returning later in this year, which is very exciting! Can you give us any insights on what to expect?
We can’t say much… but we can tell you that it’s probably not gonna be called Cherry Jam again, but it will still include a range of amazing local talent, just like last time. You should expect it within the back end of Term 2/Early term 3. Unfortunately we can’t say anything more than that. Because we don’t know.
The event featured an eclectic group of performers and performances, from five piece bands to melodic trios and even a poetry reading! This drew quite a crowd of young people, what could the local community do to support you and the local music crowd?
There are tons of ways you can support local artists. Local newsletters and bulletins (just like this) are a great way of keeping informed, as well as following local artists on socials (@andwer.b on instagram get on that we will love you forever). Also, keep an eye out around the area for posters and such. As for us, we’re gonna be doing very regular gigs around the northern beaches/city area as well as youth centre events… stay posted. posted.
In fact, this coming Friday, March 3rd, Andwer will be performing at the
youth centre’s World Pride Block Party. Come down and say hi!
Do you have any tips for other young people about pursuing their own passion projects?
Just create as much as possible. Don’t worry about how ‘good or bad’ what you’re making is and NEVER DELETE things you think are crap. As long as you’re getting to know and growing your confidence in your craft, it’s always worthwhile. It’s never going to be an overnight thing, but when you look back on your old work compared to what you’re doing now, you’ll learn so much about how far you’ve come and where to go next. Never create without reason, do what you feel expresses how you feel and make it for yourself and your personal satisfaction. Never make it for anyone else and NEVER do it because you think you ‘should’ be. There’ll be artistic highs, lows and plateaus. Just go with the flow.
You’ve just finished writing your autobiography, what would the name of the book be?
Big Andwer: We covered Frank Ocean once.
Sam visiting the garden circa 2023
Sam working on establishing the garden circa 2017
February 2023 Highlight – From Green Thumb to Freelance Ecologist!
Tell us a bit about yourself and your connection with the Youth Centre
Hello! My name is Sam Hayley, I’ve been attending the Mosman Youth Centre since about 2015. I shortly became known to all the staff, and the Youth Centre quickly became a second home. As I got older, I always found myself returning to the Youth Centre with new friends, new ideas and new passions. I I don’t like to think I’ve had my ‘last day’ at the Youth Centre; but after high school ended and I moved away from home, I’m not around as much as I would like.
Lachlan, Marina & Madeline with the donation box they built for their project
January 2023 Highlight – Lifeline Book Fair
We are Madeline, Marina and Lachlan, and we are all current Year 11 students at Redlands. Outside of MyProject, we are all very different people with our own unique hobbies and passions. Madeline loves visual art, Lachlan loves music, and Marina loves literature.
Can you give us a brief overview about your MyProject?
Our MyProject involves collecting second-hand books in good condition from the local community, which we will then donate to Lifeline. This project will be running throughout the Summer holidays, from mid-December to early February.
How did you/the team land on this idea? / Do you / the team have a specific connection with the name?
We landed on this idea because we all really believe in the importance of Lifeline’s mission: they are a charity who provide free crisis support services to Australians, and also raise awareness about suicide prevention. We all think that raising awareness for mental health is so important, particularly after Covid, so we really wanted to find a way to support Lifeline by collecting books for their annual book fairs.
How can other young people as well as the wider community support the project?
Other young people and the wider community can support our project by donating books! We have left a clearly labelled box outside the entrance of the Mosman Youth Centre, so that community members can donate books throughout the summer.
Have you come across any challenges or barriers throughout the process? If so, please explain how you overcame them.
The most challenging part of organising this project was the initial planning stage. At first, we knew we wanted to hold a book drive but weren’t 100% sure to which charities the books should go. However, after some research we found that Lifeline’s mission really spoke to us! So our advice would be to do your research and persevere through the planning stage.
Feeling inspired? To learn a bit more about how to turn your passion project into a reality follow the link below for more information about MyProject and begin your journey today.