Youth shine in awards

Extraordinary and diverse achievements of young people were celebrated in the Macedon Ranges Youth Awards last week.
Eight youths recognised across six categories were: Michael Smith, Daniel Smyth, Isaac Fletcher, Shyla McPhail, Kirk Close, Kyle Hayes, Monet Lewis and Emily Medbury.
Mayor, Cr Jennifer Anderson said the event acknowledged the many ways young people participated in and contributed to the local community.
“Each nominee deserves to be recognised. They are creating positive change in our local communities and beyond, and I’d like to acknowledge and thank each of them for their contributions and achievements,” Cr Anderson said.
“I would also like to thank all of the family, friends, volunteers and staff who support our young people in their endeavours to make the Macedon Ranges such a beautiful and inclusive place.”
Award recipients
Will Power: Michael Smith was acknowledged for his positivity and determination in overcoming health challenges to achieve his goals.
As a seven year old, Michael had an accident that left him with a brain injury, and crippling physical injuries down one side of his body, some permanent and some degenerative.
During the 16 years of operations and physiotherapy following the accident, Michael has worked hard to achieve several personal goals.
Nicely Played: Was awarded to Daniel Smyth and Isaac Fletcher for their achievements in scouting and mountain biking, respectively.
Daniel is a venturer at the 1st Riddells Creek Scout Group and an active member of the club, leading hikes with camping and a fundraiser for the Starlight Foundation that raised $1000.
He was recently awarded the Australian Scout Medallion, which is the peak award for scouts aged 11-15 years.
Isaac began mountain biking seriously three years ago at a competitive level and earlier this year finished fifth-place at the national championships, earning his first under-19 team green and gold jersey.
He was invited to compete in the 2020 World Championships in Austria this year, but was unable to attend due to COVID restrictions. Isaac also achieved the prestigious Jason Lowndes Junior Development Award.
Good Deeds: Shyla McPhail is heavily involved in fundraising for a number of different organisations, including Cancer Council, the Royal Children’s Hospital, and the Starlight Foundation.
She has been participating in the Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday appeal since she was five years old and continues to encourage her friends and family to join in.
Skilling It: Kirk Close began his scented candle business Ginger Ninjas three years ago at the age of 10 as a way to raise money for orangutans. He donates 50 per cent of all profits to Orangutan Project and has so far donated $3000 over three years.
Well Aware: Kyle Hayes works in the Live4Life program, ensuring young people in the Macedon Ranges are informed about mental health issues and help seeking behaviour.
He is involved with the Batyr in Schools program – a preventative mental health program driven by young people for young people. Kyle played a major role in adapting this program for remote delivery.
He has also created his own personal development program called ManEnough, which focuses on stigmas associated with rigid masculine stereotypes.
Pure Imagination: Monet Lewis and Emily Medbury were joint recipients of this award.
Emily is the founding co-director of, an ethical, environmentally sustainable film company and is a debut director and producer.
Their first short film, Mycelium Made, was partially shot in the Macedon Ranges and was shortlisted in the Environmental Film Festival and won two awards at other film festivals.
Fellow recipient, Monet began in performing arts when she was three years old and has performed in more than 10 theatre and musical theatre productions. She has been involved with both Sprout Theatre and Mount Players Theatre, and this year landed a professional role in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, as Lily Potter Jr, due to return post-COVID.

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