A student placement at Centacare motivated Lorrene Smale to put her TAFE studies into practice as a volunteer peer support worker.

A year later, Lorrene is helping secondary school students challenge today’s selfie-obsessed teen culture through her role as co-facilitator of Be BOLD – Break the Mould.

Run by Centacare’s PACE Service, the program aims to support girls in years 8 to 12 to grow in confidence and self-esteem.

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“There’s no such thing as perfect and we all have flaws,’’ says Lorrene, who is studying a Diploma of Youth Work.

“I encourage the girls to think about that, and why they are unique.

“I love being part of the program because I feel like I can give the girls some choices and knowledge that they can be themselves and have their own values, and that they don’t have to follow what media and society stereotypes say.’’

In the process of supporting school students to accept themselves, Lorrene says she is learning much about herself, too.

With a lived experience of mental health, her sense of purpose and self-worth is growing stronger through volunteering and her involvement with PACE.

“I feel like I am doing my part in helping break the stigma around mental health and Borderline Personality Disorder.

“With hard work, recovery is possible.

“It’s easy to forget where you’ve come from when you’re doing well in recovery, but if I’m having a bad day and I’m down on myself, now I think, `well, hang on, I’m doing this, I’m volunteering, I’m researching, I’m making things better.

“ If I can put a little bit of self-knowledge out to these young girls, not by telling them my whole story but by giving them some grounds to be gentle on themselves, then I think I can make a difference.  Knowing that helps a lot.’’

Lorrene says volunteering provides a direct pathway from the classroom to employment.

“I’m expanding my knowledge while working alongside professionals in the sector and having fun doing what I love. It’s an all-round learning experience.’’

Lorrene’s role is being highlighted as part of National Volunteer Week, May 8-14.  For more information, follow the #NVW2017 hashtag on social media and visit Volunteering Australia.

*Centacare’s PACE team supports young people and adults who are struggling with eating disorders, anxiety, panic attacks, and obsessive compulsive behaviour. Delivered over three 90-minute workshops, Be BOLD – Break the Mould teaches girls in Years 8 to 12 how to:

·         Recognise unrealistic standards of beauty portrayed in the media

·         Avoid unhelpful comparisons with others

·         Accept themselves and what makes them unique

·         Develop a positive body image and healthy lifestyle

·         Gain confidence and self-belief

The program is free. If you would like the free workshops offered at your school, please phone 1800 809 304 or email pace@centacare.org.au.