Introducing Lions' youth pride
TWEED Heads-Coolangatta Lion Bryan Shaw said he saw the most talented 2012 regional Youth of the Year Quest finalists ever.
He saw Louis Monaghan of St Joseph's College Banora Point win the public speaking section, as he did in the club and zone competitions.
And he saw Lismore's Giselle Newton win the overall Tweed Heads Bowls Club regional final and move on to the Brisbane district final on March 24 - then the state and national finals if she is lucky and deserving.
Mr Shaw was at the coal face of finding such students as Louis this year: liaising with Tweed teachers for eligible students, then passing them on to local clubs for the first round.
He has long been involved in Lions' Youth of the Year and his entire six years' membership at Tweed Heads-Coolangatta.
"The Lions Youth of the Year Quest was established in Brisbane in 1964 and for the first two years was conducted only in Queensland," the club's Youth of the Year Quest chairman said.
It was expanded to a nationwide project in 1966 and up until 1980 it was only for boys.
"In its 38 years of existence it has grown in stature and is regarded as one of the premier youth development programs in this country," Mr Shaw said.
"We guarantee every kid that wants to have a go can have one, which means we have to spread them around the clubs."
The regional final judging panel featured the regional operations manager of the National Australia Bank - who are sponsors.
The Tweed Heads-Coolangatta competition featured the bank's Tweed Heads South branch manager.
Mr Shaw said the aim of the quest was to see teenagers commit to their studies and their community.
"The whole concept is for leaders in the future of Australia.
"That's happened a couple of times: both Kevin Rudd and Peter Beattie competed but neither won the national final."
The Tweed Shire is on the front foot when it comes to Youth of the Year, he said.
"Louis has made a speech to students at his school to get them thinking about it before Year 12.
"We've got to have them thinking about it a few years beforehand.
"Someone said to me 'It restores my faith in the younger generation, to see what they can achieve'.
"They're not the kids that hang around the streets at night, and we hope they become role models for other kids to aspire to.
"I told his school Louis is a credit to the school and his parents.
"Kids like him give you faith we're not going down the drain."
Mr Shaw made sure to mention the benefits of being a Youth of the Year, besides a unique character building experience.
"If you win state you get a six week tour of Australia; a chaperoned tour to visit the towns of other kids in the competition.
"If you win national, you visit an international conference as a representative."
The winner of a humble club Youth of the Year Quest competition could find him or herself thrust on to the world stage.
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