Youth Spotlight: Ashlee Shotter

Ashlee, a young person, stands in front of trees and leaves. She is wearing a denim jacket with an embroidered rose near the shoulder.

I think it’s important that communities have a sense of connection because there’s no way you can get through something by yourself, whether it’s a pandemic or just everyday life. Having a community where everyone works together creates more of a home and a family. It’s about unity. I try to put my hand up for anything because I’d love for other people to have the same opportunities, experiences, and growth that I’ve had. I was awarded Yarra Ranges Young Citizen of the Year for my work in the community. I’m involved in local netball coaching and umpiring, play soccer and volunteer at aged-care centres. I just want to keep the community spirit going.

I was also involved in the Canbodia project during high school, exchanging recycled aluminium cans through cash-for-scrap and sending the funds to Cambodia. I also organised Easter raffles and other fundraising events around the Valley. The first time I went to Cambodia I noticed how, despite not having a lot, the people were still happy. We take so many little things for granted here, and it made such a big difference to the Cambodian people being able to give them the same opportunities. I’ve been to Cambodia twice and plan to go again when I can.

During lockdown, I knew that a lot of people weren’t particularly happy or in a good head space. I wanted to do something to make a difference, so I folded over 200 paper cranes with inspirational quotes and messages and anonymously left them in people’s letter boxes. With some of the cranes I asked people to pass on the good gesture to keep the kindness going. Someone posted on Facebook that they’d gotten one and were inspired to donate one-hundred dollars to ten families struggling during COVID. That was pretty special. That’s what I wanted, not just to do something nice myself but to encourage other people to pass on the good spirits. I felt pretty good.

I was in my school’s SRC since year seven, becoming the President in 2019 and the Vice President in 2020. It was important because students wanted things to happen in the school but sometimes the resourcing wasn’t there. Through SRC, we were able to help students make the school how they wanted it to be. One idea we had was for a school-pride week where students could get involved in activities and celebrate being at school. We organised an Amazing Race where students from across the school went around and did teamwork activities. The school had never done this before, and the teachers put in heaps of effort to run everything in a way where all the students had fun.

I think it’s important that young people take on leadership roles because it gives them a chance to try something new and helps them build up different skills for the future. I think the biggest skill I have learnt is resilience. If something doesn’t work out the first time, try again and adapt to get what you want. If you think something’s impossible, it’s going to be impossible. You’ve got to put the effort in to get the results or the outcome you want.

I encourage people to participate more in the community and raise your hand to give things a go. You never know if that will help to decide your future career pathway or be a stepping stone to help you develop more skills passions. I personally want to be more of an adult leader and helper with the high school I went to, encouraging students to take a chance and give things a go.