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Bulli HSC student gives thanks for the positives of living in the close knit north

One of the ‘exhibition blocks’ in the Wollongong Mall

AMELIE Downie has had a lot on her plate this year with online learning, missing friends and the challenge of finishing the HSC during a pandemic.

Despite this, the former Bulli High School student gives thanks for living in her small and caring community in Wollongong’s north.

Amelie’s appreciation of her close knit community is expressed in the Wollongong City Council Grateful Portrait Project.

The Grateful Portrait Project is an exhibition on gratefulness that showcases the thoughts and experiences of young people across the Illawarra.

The project has captured and shared images of young people and their grateful statements on ‘exhibition blocks’ throughout the Wollongong Mall.

Earlier this year, Council asked young people across the Illawarra to reflect on their experiences in 2020 by sharing an image and a few thoughts on what they’re grateful for.

Now, just in time for Christmas the Council has unveiled the exhibition of 32 portraits of young people and their responses to the statement ‘I am grateful for…”.

For many people, 2020 has meant a year of upheaval and change. This has been especially true for young students like 17-year-old Amelie.

“I love the sense of community… In the northern suburbs, everyone knows everyone, and this creates such a friendly and comforting environment to experience every day,” Amelie said.

“Definitely don’t take community for granted. Here in Wollongong, everyone is willing to help you, if you get stuck for whatever reason, from needing a cup of sugar from your neighbour or just needing someone to talk to. Don’t forget the Wollongong community is here to help.”

While appreciative of her community, Amelie said there were challenges completing her HSC at Bulli High School.

“Let me tell you, this year has not been easy,” she said.

“With quarantine disrupting my learning at school, job and social life, the common morale among most year 12s has been very low. I love the social nature of going to school and making connections with friends and teachers, in a way where learning is assisted by everyone around you.

“One of the main challenges has been staying motivated while studying and teaching myself HSC content.”

 Amelie said gratitude is appreciating the little things that make you smile in a day.

“Without having these moments in your life, you would be unhappy and unable to live your life to the fullest,” she said.

Amelie hopes to attend University and said she looks forward to “exploring the world, if Covid allows it”.

“I look forward to making new friends in this exploration and experience the freedom that comes with graduating high school,” she said.

Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said that the Grateful Portrait Project was a display of the strength and awareness of young people here in the Illawarra.

“It’s too easy to forget to celebrate the good things in life. Our young people have reminded us of the value of practicing gratitude and enjoying the small wins that come our way,” said Cr Bradbery.

The Grateful Portrait Project will remain on exhibition in the Crown Street Mall until January 2021.

For more information about the Grateful Portrait Project, visit the Wollongong City Centre website.


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About Mick Roberts

A Sydney journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of pubs, inns and associated industries in Australia for over 30 years. He is currently working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick has owned and managed several community newspapers. He was one time editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), Sydney based, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW. He currently calls the inner-Sydney suburb of Surry Hills home.

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