Mitchell Collins sometimes finds it hard to have his voice heard. But at The Y, Mitchell has always felt empowered to speak and be heard.
Now, after over 10 years of involvement with The Y in Whittlesea, Mitchell is finding ways to give back to the organisation that helped him through some crucial periods in his life.
Through Y-run camps, holiday programs, social groups, and more advanced leadership programs, Mitchell has built both confidence and friendships, and it now ready to transition from participant to leader.
Mitchell developed a love of woodworking through countless afternoons spent in his Grandfather’s garage working on projects together. After his passing, Mitchell was inspired to start a new program called ‘Men’s Shed’ to share his knowledge and passion with other members of The Y’s disability support programs.
“Men’s shed exists because it’s good for us to build skills, but it’s also to build a community and make friends,” Mitchell explains. “Men’s Shed helps people, and it’s good to help out when people need it.”
Among other projects, the group create ‘sensory boards’ that are used as important tools in The Y’s disability support programs. “It’s important to us to make sensory boards because they help people out when they’re feeling stressed,” says Mitchell. “They’re also pretty expensive. So, by building them we’re helping the community.”
And Men’s Shed isn’t just making a difference in the lives of its new participants; the program’s success has also had profound effects on Mitchell as its founder. “It brings feelings to my heart and it makes me feel loved,” he says.
As of now, Men’s Shed hasn’t yet spread to The Y outside of Whittlesea in outer north-east Melbourne, but Mitchell hopes to one day extend the influence of Men’s Shed across Australia, so that he can continue to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable young people, and share the knowledge and passion he inherited from his grandfather with others. “I would love ‘Men’s Shed’ to grow larger so that everyone can come and be helped and feel needed”.
Ultimately that’s what The Y hopes to achieve too; to help the world see the power of inspired young people, and to deliver millions of life-changing moments to Australians every day.
See Mitchell's story on video here.