4 ways in which neuroscience is Empowering Youth to Thrive

Almost half of today's youth experience a lack of confidence in themselves every or most days. Despite a desire to, nearly the same percentage (44%) does not know how to develop more confidence.1 For Aboriginal, Torres Straight Island and Indigenous Pacific peoples, self-confidence is intricately linked to self-esteem which in turn greatly influences motivation to improve one's performance.2 This affects how “many Aboriginal children think, talk and behave”3 in mainstream educational settings and can lead to a cycle of disengagement, often only because they are hesitant to showcase their abilities in public for fear of making a mistake.4

Empowering Youth to Thrive

Empowering Youth to Thrive (EYTT) is an innovative project designed to incorporate the latest neuroscience knowledge with a unique multi-strand approach to engaging and educating participants. Available primarily to Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Pacifica young people aged 15-24 years (although non-indigenous people may apply) Empowering Youth to Thrive is about finding everyone’s gift so they can give back to their community. Many participants have one or more of the following:

Over 12 weeks participants will undertake training and activities integrating neuroscience, teamwork and practical skill development including: a one week Work Experience Placement, resume writing, project management and sessions on exploring vocational pathways before undergoing needs-based coaching and mentoring, including peer-to-peer mentoring. Each and every section specifically designed to get results and improve outcomes.

Results based neuroscience program

In order to reach the goal of employability, we must consider the impact adverse life circumstances may have had on their brain development and view of the world. Four specialist youth guides use a range of methods to engage the youths to participate in the specialised projects designed to improve social and emotional wellbeing of participants. The science shows that knowledge in regulating emotions and learning to accept responsibility are crucial aspects of building the self confidence required to be work ready.  Pathways to resistance have partnered with Griffith University in developing the pilot project for national rollout and results are consistently tracked and studied for areas of improvement.

Building meaningful connections

Studies have shown the importance developing a deeper knowledge and understanding of indigenous culture has on the quality of learning for indigenous youth. Indigenous elders, psychiatrists and sociologists outline the following to help facilitate this process: “create opportunities to strengthen connections with country, establish cultural activities, legitimise traditional systems, recognise the need for connectedness, hope, efficacy, safety, calm, dignity, responsibility, truth, empathetic listening and working together”.5 EYTT participants and facilitators delve into indigenous history - touring Cherbourg (Aboriginal Shire) and getting an expert run down on the area. By creating a family style network between participants and facilitators, we build an ongoing system of trust and support that goes much longer than the program.

Not your typical classroom

No computers involved, rock climbing, Hip Hop music making, Body Wisdom, African Drum Circles, Yarning Circles, Cultural awareness, Hero’s Journey, Art Therapy Painting, and cooking is about as far from the mainstream learning experience you can get.  By focusing on making new friends , giving and getting support and advice, getting out of your comfort zone, learning new skills like interacting with others, public speaking, believing in yourself  and team work games  it allows participants to find their voice in a supportive and engaging environment.

Focus on building practical and transferrable skills for employment

Empowering youth to thrive wouldn’t be complete without imparting the practical skills needed to be confident and competent in the workforce. Our guest speakers, employer visits, a one week Work Experience Placement, resume writing sessions, project management and sessions on exploring vocational pathways are designed to make a person employable from the inside out. In the final phase of the program participants will have access to needs-based coaching and mentoring to brush up 1 on 1 on any aspects of employability that still require improvement.

Pathways to Resilience is committed to empowering youth from all backgrounds to survive and thrive in the workforce and in life. The program has consistent great feedback from the participants - they feel welcomed, it is laidback, you are able to be yourself - you are being more engaged, getting outdoors, experiencing new things through music, movement and culture.


[1] https://www.kfc.com.au/sites/default/files/2018-05/KFC_YouthConfidenceReport_2018.pdF
[2] Woods, B. (2001). Psychology in Practice: Sport. London: Hodder & Stoughton.
[3] Harrison, N. (2011). Teaching and Learning in Aboriginal Education (2nd ed.). South Melbourne: Oxford University Press
[4] McClelland, D. C., Atkinson, J., Clark, R., & Lowell, E. (1953). The achievement motive. New York: Appleton-Century-Croft.
[5] Thompson, S. (2010). Aboriginal Perspectives on Physical Activity in Remote Communities: Meanings and Ways Forward. Casuarina NT: Menzies School of Health Research.

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