Wednesday, 22 July marked seven years of The Helmsman Project delivering life-changing programs to young people. We’ve come a long way since 2013 and while many aspects of our organisation have changed and grown over the years, we are proud to stick by the same mission: to help young people develop the skills and perspective to set goals, overcome setbacks, persevere and thrive.
The Helmsman Project was founded by a shared belief between two men: that young people should be able to flourish regardless of their background. Seven years later, this belief has flourished into an innovative not-for-profit organisation whose programs are continuing to develop and extend its impact on young people, their schools and the wider community.
The ability of our organisation to innovate, grow and flourish would not be possible without the tremendous support we have received from professional coaches, volunteers and sponsors including Goodman Foundation, Endeavour Energy, Brickworks, EG Funds Management, Atlassian Foundation, Amazon Web Services Australia, Westpac Foundation, Waterwheel Foundation, Clayton Utz, Macpherson Kelley, just to name a few.
The Helmsman Project would also not be able to exist without schools who help facilitate and welcome our programs to their students. We’ve worked with 13 schools across Sydney including, over the last year, Chester Hill High School, Seven Hills High School, Birrong Girls High School and St Agnes Catholic High School Rooty Hill, where we kick-started our 2020 programs.
A major highlight to celebrate our seven years has been the conclusion of the longitudinal randomised control trial research project, funded by the Australian Research Council and conducted in partnership with the Institute for Positive Psychology and Education at the Australian Catholic University. The research project, considered the ‘gold-standard’ of scientific research, was led by Professor Herb Marsh (ACU) and co-supervised by Dr Michael Cavanagh (USyd). The outcomes of this research were published by Dr Wendy Gwyn in a PhD thesis entitled: Giving disadvantaged adolescents skills to flourish: Random-control-trial intervention integrating developmental coaching with outdoor adventure education.
Our programs have been built on research that suggests personal coaching and adventure education activities have the potential to have a positive development impact on adolescents. The research found, among many things, that our programs help young people to increase their sense of hope, self-confidence, open thinking, wellbeing, social effectiveness, self-regulation and other qualities and skills. The conclusion of this research has confirmed the positive impact our programs have had on young people since 2013.
Reflecting on the past seven years of The Helmsman Project inspires what the next seven years will have in store. Our vision of a world where young people realise their potential will continue to drive the organisation.