Darwin born and bred Jessie Spargo and Mark Munnich are National Youth Week (NYW) Ambassadors for the Darwin, Palmerston and Darwin Rural Region. Off The Leash caught up with Spargo during a quick break in her hectic schedule, which includes working at Menzies School of Health Research, studying a Masters of Disaster and Emergency Management at Charles Darwin University (CDU) and playing horn in the Darwin Symphony Orchestra; and had a chat with CDU Bachelor of Laws student Munnich who was on the Tiwi Islands with his work as a Community Legal Educator with the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency.
Above: Jessie Spargo and Mark Munnich
Why did you get involved in NYW?
JS: I was drawn to NYW because of the theme: Dream Big! This theme means something different for everyone, but for me “Dream Big” speaks to ideas. I am really interested in learning what other young people in the Territory are passionate about, and working together to make that happen. NYW is a platform from which ideas can be fostered or shared and I find this really exciting.
MM: There are numerous reasons, but the most important is that it’s a week that’s dedicated to young people. I wanted to be able to share my experiences and use it as an opportunity to be actively involved in the community, to voice my passions and encourage others to get involved.
What does being a NYW Ambassador entail?
JS: An ambassador has the privilege of promoting NYW and sitting on judging panels for Youth Week and Youth Holiday grants. The role of an ambassador is about encouraging other young people in the Territory to feel that they can develop their own ideas into action; host an event themselves and maybe even consider being a leader or ambassador one day.
MM: Getting out there and getting involved in the community. It’s a privilege to share and emphasize the important contribution young people make across the Territory.
What youth issues are you most passionate about?
JS: Encouraging young people to get involved in science, engineering and technology! Any field of study can seem daunting to a young person in or leaving high school, however with the right opportunities and support to get involved, it needn’t seem so daunting. I am most passionate about getting young people to think outside the box, don’t be afraid – take safe but exciting chances!
MM: I’m passionate about issues that affect Indigenous youth as well as issues relating to health, alcohol, other drugs, youth boredom and sexual health.
What do you love most about the Territory?
JS: I work as a biologist and am a biologist by heart, so I would be amiss if I didn’t say what I love most about the Territory is the unique environment; the animals, plants, landscape and weather, plus the incredible people who make up the Territory’s character, its flair. I love that our young cohort are integral to this.
MM: Having been born and raised here I love how it keeps getting bigger. It’s a diverse community that embraces different cultures.
What are your top event picks for NYW?
JS: Dishing Up Darwin is sure to be a hit, a creative competition of enthusiasm and tasty delights – I can’t wait! I’m also very excited about the Palmerston Pool Party.
MM: Youth Homelessness Matters Day in Katherine is an important event on the NYW calendar; and I encourage everyone to attend some events in their local area.