Hailey Trudgeon was named Young Citizen of the Year during the Taree Australia Day awards for her work with the Old Bar Early Learning Centre in coordinating the compilation of the children's and families' stories of their experiences during the bush fires in 2019.
The book, 'When the fires came to Old Bar' has been published and was inspired by 'Narrative Therapy', which uses storytelling for children to express their feelings, particularly around mental health.
"I sat down with a heap of children and wrote down their stories, and they drew pictures. We created a book and got it published," Hailey said.
At this stage, Hailey (who was 17 at the time) was approaching the end of her schooling and was inspired to find a course at uni that incorporated this practice of storytelling for trauma.
In April 2021, she enrolled in a Bachelor of Community Health and a certificate in Narrative Therapy at Taree Universities campus through the University of South Australia.
The idea is to help children identify the strengths and skills they have learned because of these challenges that they faced.- Hailey Trudgeon, Young Citizen of the Year
Hailey recently volunteered with Hunter Local Land Services to practice some narrative therapy skills to create more books focusing on fire and flood.
"The idea is to help children identify the strengths and skills they have learned because of these challenges that they faced," she said.
"I am currently working on a project with young people who have chronic illnesses to share their experiences with each other and acknowledge each other's strengths."
At Taree's 2022 Australia Day Awards held at the Manning RiverStage, Hailey Trudgeon was presented with the Young Citizen of the Year, from a group of five finalists.
The award rounded out an inspiring year for Hailey with the Young Citizen Award coming on top of her December 2021 win of the Wellbeing Award in the MidCoast Council Youth awards.
Hailey has also recently recorded a podcast with Taree Universities Campus, speaking with campus coordinator Marlo Slavin about Narrative Therapy and how storytelling has helped our community recover.
Instead of being in the river, if the river is the person's life, you kind of step onto the riverbank and you look down at the river, so you're not immersed in the problems, but you can assist them a bit better.- Hailey Trudgeon, Young Citizen of the Year
During the podcast, Hailey uses this metaphor to describe Narrative Therapy:
"There was this metaphor I learnt last week, about a river, about narrative therapy. If you're thinking about a river, when your narrative therapist, you're working with a person or people.
"Instead of being in the river, if the river is the person's life, you kind of step onto the riverbank and you look down at the river, so you're not immersed in the problems, but you can assist them a bit better.
"And you can see, oh, there's a really chaotic area of the river over there. And over there, it's really calm and still."
To listen to Hailey's Podcast visit https://www.tareeuni.org.au/podcast
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