Creating and empowering inspired young people is at the core of the Y’s mission here in Australia, and thankfully, it’s a mission that’s shared by thousands of individuals across the Y. Chrissie Erickson is one of many who have made the Y’s mission their own, and changed countless lives as a result.
Having held several roles in youth work over the last 12 years, Chrissie is now thriving as the coordinator for Space Squad in Canberra, a Y-run residential holiday camp program for students in years 6-9 who are passionate about all things space. It’s a role that she sees not just as a job, but as an opportunity to connect with the future leaders of Australia and provide them with a safe space where they feel heard and respected.
While Chrissie admits that she didn’t know much about space when she started in her current role, she has enjoyed learning with and from the children who attend the camp, often inspired by their passion and eagerness to share their knowledge and learnings with others.
Chrissie recalls a particularly proud moment when a camper sat down with her and taught her step by step how to solve a Rubik’s cube. “The sense of achievement he got when I could finally solve it was just unreal,” says Chrissie. “It was one of those moments that made me go, this is why I do this.”
Simply by taking the time to listen and being willing to learn, Chrissie was able to make this young person feel important. And she was also able to learn a valuable new skill which she can now teach to other interested campers. Chrissie now supplies Rubik’s cubes to all campers for the course of the program and runs her own Rubik’s cube workshops during camp.
“I have to say, I’ve got a pretty awesome job,” Chrissie says. “These young people are the problem solvers of the future. Challenging them and making them think is vitally important. For girls especially, it’s so important to show them what they’re capable of.”
Ultimately, Chrissie’s hope is simply for every child that comes through Space Squad to feel valued, and for those struggling to find their confidence and feel reassured that there is a place for them and people who will appreciate them exactly as they are.
“You don’t have to change who you are to fit in. There are people like you out there; you’ve just got to find your herd,” she said.
As for the future, Chrissie plans to continue her work with young people, and to continue to prove to them that their voices and their contributions are valid and valued. For Chrissie, each child that comes through Space Squad is another opportunity to change a life, and each one of those children is one of the million moments that make the Y’s work so crucial. Find out more about the Y’s Space Squad Program in Canberra here https://www.facebook.com/YSpaceSquad/
“You don’t have to change who you are to fit in. There are people like you out there; you’ve just got to find your herd,” – Chrissie.
See Chrissie's story on video here.