Written by Swapnil Samanta, Year 7

Is a good leader born or made? Strong leadership was the topic our Year 7 student leaders set out to learn about as we headed to the Entertainment Centre, standing proudly over Port Road, to attend the National Young Leaders Day. Etiquette nearly deserted us as we took our seats in the auditorium, entertaining music playing in the background. We found out the day’s schedule through a booklet we found on our seats and discovered we’d be attending the speeches of four speakers, with break times interspersed throughout.

While many of us were no doubt expecting inspirational stories throughout the day, it came as a shock to see our first speaker riding out balanced precariously on a skateboard. The reason for this became evident as we saw this man had no legs. For the next hour, we learnt that John Coutis had deformed legs that caused others to bully him and resulted in him having his legs amputated. He spoke about the need to treat others well, tell your friends and family you love them and never give up, no matter how difficult life can be.

Next we had Jules Sebastian come and speak with us. Her most important message was to be yourself and don’t feel the need to change for someone else. We were then introduced to Matt Cosgrove, an author, who told us about his childhood and the repeated declinations he experienced before his first book was published. His leadership message was one of self-belief, persistence and determination.

After a short lunch break we had our final guest speaker. If you have been watching the show Behind The News (BTN) recently, then you will know that Nathan Bazley left BTN to pursue Kokoda VR, a virtual reality game. He talked about the difficulties he encountered in this new venture and encouraged us to persist in the face of adversity.

To return to our original question, we believe good leaders can be made with a few key ingredients: determination, persistence and empathy. Our student leadership team aspires to demonstrate these qualities each and every day.