Teenage dynamo Maddy Houston is one of many young people in the running for recognition as part of the Team Brisbane campaign.
The 19-year old volunteers her time to help save the lives of high school students by teaching them how to stay safe and handle dangerous situations.
“I encourage young people to be responsible and think about the bigger picture and make better decisions now, so they do not affect their future,” Maddy says.
Drawing on her skills as an Australian Taekwondo champion, she educates and engages students around the country as part of the Matthew Stanley Foundation and the No 2nd Chance campaign.
“I have done talks at schools over the past year and a half and I am an ambassador for both foundations as a role model for young people … My Taekwondo training is my biggest motivation towards this cause, and I did a couple of assignments at school about youth violence. That’s how I came across the Matthew Stanley Foundation.”
Her mother introduced her to Paul Stanley, father of Matthew Stanley, who tragically lost his life to youth violence at a high school party in 2006.
“My mum called Paul Stanley and we met up with him and had a two hour discussion… the fact that the person who killed Matthew Stanley only got two years didn’t sit well with me and motivated me even more,” she says. “I put together a presentation that I would do at schools and it went from there.”
Maddy says she enjoys working with high schoolers, who find it easier to relate to someone their own age.
“Everyone engages with it because I am a young person, and the message is coming from a young person’s mouth. It is more relatable… it’s like a friend saying ‘Be careful’. You can really tell that they’re listening. Hopefully they remember what I say to them when they go out with friends!”
The ability to recognise potentially dangerous situations — and get out of them — is a skill Maddy stresses to students.
“Attackers pretty much always come across quite aggressive, and a circle will start to form. When that happens the easiest way to do that is remove yourself from the situation. If that means running, you run, and you get help if you can,” she says. “I teach young people about how to see the situations that arise and what to do, how to get out of it and even how to prevent a situation from even coming up.”
If you know a community hero like Maddy, now’s the time to recognise them. Nominate someone you know who makes you proud of your city and embodies the Team Brisbane spirit, and they might be recognised at the Team Brisbane Heroes awards night at Customs House on Wednesday 29 October. Click here to enter.
You can follow Team Brisbane conversations and events using hashtags #teambne or #brisbaneanyday or by visiting teambne.com.au.