HERstory: Finding a stronger sense of belonging at YMCA Lady Northcote

  • Date: 25 October 2019
  • Category: News
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Image: Amal, Sundus, Fatima and Zaham have fun at HERstory camp

Going kayaking and navigating a high ropes course were some of the new experiences for a group of 24 women as a part of HERstory camp developed in partnership with YMCA Victoria, Sports and Recreation Victoria, The Huddle and North Melbourne Football Club.

Held at YMCA Lady Northcote Recreation Camp, the weekend away was to support and empower young women ranging in age from 18-26, from varied backgrounds including Somalia, Eritrea, Morocco and Turkey. Their professions were equally diverse with a mix of nurses, scientists, journalists and students.

YMCA Lady Northcote Camp manager Rob Cummins said the women started off as complete strangers and ended up friends. This outcome was due to careful co-design and program planning by the YMCA and The Huddle.

“Our aim was to create an experience for young people to challenge themselves and create authentic connections.

“Through the safe and supportive space of the Y, the women stepped out of their comfort zone and tried brand-new activities.

“At the start of the camp the participants all sat in little groups of two or three, but by the end of the three days they had found a connection with one another and were all sitting around one table,” he said.

The non-profit Huddle was established in 2010 as a joint initiative of the North Melbourne Football Club, the Scanlon Foundation and the Australian Multicultural Foundation to engage and support young Muslim women. The Huddle’s CEO and The North Melbourne Football Club’s general manager of community engagement Cameron McLeod said the HERstory camp was about giving the group a space to connect.

“It’s amazing what can happen in just three days," Cameron said. “Though from many different cultural backgrounds, they found connections through nature.

“Most of the women had never been to camp before. Going kayaking, doing the high ropes course and sharing their stories around a camp fire helped them learn, grow and feel a stronger sense of belonging,” he said.

As a result of the camp the women have created a strong network and friendship which has continued post-camp and helped “kick-start a community.”

Two more HERstory camps are planned for next year, to be held across YMCA Camp Manyung Recreation Camp and YMCA Lady Northcote Recreation Camp.