Terrence building leaders of the future through Townsville SLIP program
By CLIFF WORTHING
“You don’t need a title to be a leader” – this is one of the philosophies behind the Sports Leadership Impact Program (SLIP), facilitated by Terrence Whyte, The Salvation Army’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Co-ordinator and Youth Specialist in Townsville.
Each school term, Terrence works with Year 5 boys at Kelso State School on the outskirts of the North Queensland city. The program aims to tap into students’ leadership potential through activities and yarning about lessons learned. Common themes include team-building, social norms, respect and communication.
“I'm just happy to see our young people learn the tools of life,” Terrence said. “It’s great to see that lightbulb moment when they realise, ‘I’ve got this!’”
Sport is a useful tool for leadership training, according to Terrence, because students learn about teamwork, rules, perseverance and resilience when things don’t always work out as planned. Those skills are easily transferrable to other situations, such as at home or in the classroom.
“I encourage the student to try things but not stress out if they don’t get it straight away,” Terrence said. “It is so encouraging to see a shy, young student come out of his shell, grow in confidence, take on leadership responsibility and gain the support of his peers.”
Each year, the school invites students who have leadership potential or need encouragement to participate in SLIP. The school provides a staff member to work with Terrence each session.
Growing in confidence
“Kelso State School values this program and the way it contributes to our school community,” said Stacey Burrows, Kelso SS Early Years Coach. “We have seen our Year 5 boys that complete the program grow in confidence and develop their leadership skills, with many achieving leadership positions within the school in Year 6.”
The school this year handed leadership positions to five of the 12 participants from last year’s SLIP cohort. The collaboration with Kelso State School has spanned five years and includes the school supporting the Salvos in Townsville with the Red Shield Appeal and Christmas gifts.
Even though not all participants in SLIP are Indigenous, Terrence, as a Goemulaig man from Mabuyaag Island in the Torres Strait, feels he has a cultural responsibility to pass on what he knows.
“In my culture, leadership is always a shared role, and you don’t need a title to have influence,” Terrence said. “The motto of the program supports this approach, ‘Be a good follower when others lead, and be a good leader for others to follow.’”