James Seeary: Westfield Local Heroes 2019

Story

James Seeary: Westfield Local Heroes 2019

Helping at-risk youth stay engaged with education

Operation Newstart Casey
Patient. Caring. Inspirational

One of the most rewarding parts of James Seeary’s work with at-risk youth is when he meets up with one of his former students who has grown up into a successful adult.

“It gives me a warm feeling,” says James. “Listening to their memories of their time with us is always a great experience.”

James is the Program Manager at Operation Newstart Casey, where he has helped more than three hundred and fifty young people stay engaged with their education over the past twelve years.

Many of the students referred to the program by local schools display risk-taking behaviours, lack motivation, have low self-esteem, are disruptive, engage in truancy or engage in criminal activity.

During the term-long program, they attend their home school for two days a week and Operation Newstart for three.

The multi-layered intervention includes outdoor and adventure activities, community service and group work that involves parents.

James engages directly with participants. “I enjoy getting out and getting dirty alongside the young people. It enables me to build strong and trusting relationships.”

As a result, he has become a caring father figure for many of the students.
He has found it surreal to be voted a Westfield Local Hero. “You don’t enter a role like this to receive accolades. It does, however, feel nice to know that enough members of the community think my work is valuable,” he says.

“We consistently go over and above to support these young people when much of their life is in crisis. They know they can call on my staff or me at any time.”

In 2016 James received an award from the Casey community and was nominated as Citizen of the Year for his work at the program.

Operation Newstart Casey’s grant will bring welcome relief from financial pressure and will help to sustain its program until 2020.

“This money will fund an entire term of activity and food for our next cohort,” says James.

For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here.

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