Checkpoint

Checkpoint is a very important program for those young people in Redcliffe and North Lakes who are disengaging from school because of extreme life circumstances that prevent them from maintaining their education.

Checkpoint is a flexible learning program that walks alongside local schools – in particular Redcliffe State High School, Clontarf Beach State High School and North Lakes College.

What’s a flexible learning program?  Well, it’s an initiative that was developed by the amazing people at Education Queensland to bridge the widening education gap that was occurring in our state.  The State Government of Queensland recognised that some young people needed extra support to complete their schooling – or to re-engage with their education – because of complex life circumstances.

Those circumstances can be anything, but are usually related to:

– Family breakdown and parent separation/divorce;
– Drug and alcohol addiction;
– Severe mental health concerns;
– Disability or learning disability;
– Bullying;
– Engagement with Child Safety or Youth Justice;
– Truancy.

Checkpoint addresses these issues by wrapping holistic support around a young person.  The young men and women who attend the program continue their education at the Youth Space, but they do it in a flexible way – and our job is to get them back into school once their issues are addressed.

Each young person is individually case managed to address their specific need.  So, if they have Aspergers, a certain approach is used.  If they have trouble taking on board information that is delivered in a particular way we change a maths or English into an experiential and kinaesthetic activity that still teaches maths and English skills but links it to real life stuff or fun stuff (like cooking, or crazy science experiments) that is hands on and gets across everything that needs to be taught but in a more accessible way.  If a young person has a drug or alcohol addiction, part of their study routine is to meet regularly with a drug and alcohol specialist to address their addiction… and so on.

As well as individual case management, we take the “temperature” of the group on a daily basis and determine how best to engage with the guys and ensure they’ll learn something.

What a lot of people don’t understand is that young people are constantly exposed to all sorts of stuff many of us weren’t when we were younger.  Mostly thanks to the internet.  Young people carry the internet with them everywhere they go via their mobile phones.  When we’re winding down at the end of a day and getting ready to go to bed, we probably curl up in front of the TV for a bit before bed or grab a book or hang out with friends or our partner and relax for a bit.  These days, more and more teenagers are winding down (and getting wound up) via facebook or some other social network.  They can be bullied online with frightening regularity, sometimes by their own peer group and closest friends, and they can be dragged into one drama after another in constantly changing conversations and posts – that can unsettle an entire group of young people.  Each day we try and size up what’s gone on in the hours since we last saw the group, and if we can tell they’re agitated we’ll change the curriculum on the spot and start the day out with basketball, netball, tennis, touch football, a cooking class or something that will help to settle our students down and focus them.  Then we’ll get into the work, but we’ll usually do that with a bit of a twist to maintain their engagement.  We’ll also take every opportunity available to get to the bottom of the group’s discontent and solve that particular issue for them.

Checkpoint has a few major aims:

– re-engage young people with their educational institution (usually a high school);
– stop truancy;
– re-invigorate a young person’s desire to learn;
– support young people who are disengaging from education because they are encountering complex life issues;
– advocate for young people to schools;
– support local schools and their behavioural units;
– support young people to complete their year 10 equivalent at the Youth Space, or transition into another education program if they are unable to return to school.

Checkpoint works closely with the schools to support a young person to continue, and in some cases complete, their education.  It also works in closely with our Crime Prevention project because we see education as a major deterrant to involvement with the juvenile justice system.

To qualify for the program you must be enrolled in a school.  There are ways around that, because Education Queensland are actually pretty fantastic people.  So if you’re not sure if you’re eligible just call us and we’ll see what can be done to support you.

Checkpoint has maintained a 100% success rate for the last six years of it’s seven year run.  We believe the reason for that is because it’s an education program based in a youth centre run by Youth Workers.  We’re not teachers, and we are specifically trained to work with young people.  That gives us a bit of an edge!