Sensational weather made for perfect gliding conditions as twenty-two local Year 9 students soared above Benalla, thanks to Tomorrow Today’s Connect9 community mentoring program.

Connect9 is a free ten-week program that matches Year 9 students with a community mentor who is their ‘buddy’ throughout the program. The young people and their mentors connect to new skills and hobbies, people and experiences, as well as opportunities to explore careers and set life goals. Each program concludes with a glider flight over Benalla.

COVID-19 pandemic restrictions changed the way Connect9 was delivered this year. The young mentees and their community mentors showed terrific attitude and spirit, trying a range of virtual and face-to-face community experiences. Activities were enthusiastically supported by the Benalla Art Gallery, Benalla Scout Group, GOTAFE, CSU, Galen College VEX Robotics team, the Gliding Club of Victoria, and a local health and fitness expert. 

“We are incredibly grateful to our community partners and volunteers for their ongoing support of the Connect9 program. Giving young people positive experiences and connecting them to community was particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions,” said Rosie Koop, Executive Officer of Tomorrow Today.

For many community mentors, this was the first time they had experienced virtual activities. “They embraced the challenge, often supported and encouraged by their young mentees. Mentors often say they get as much out of Connect9 as their mentee.”

Connect9 is one of many activities Tomorrow Today offers to improve life skills and educational opportunities for Benalla’s young people.

Families of current Year 8 students can express interest in Connect9 for 2021 by contacting Tomorrow Today on 5762 1211.

A highlight of Tomorrow Today’s Connect9 program is a glider flight over Benalla, courtesy of the Gliding Club of Victoria.