Blacktown City Council has named its Youth Ambassadors for 2022-23 – Darshanik Aryal from James Ruse Agricultural High School and Giovanna Anika Tabanag from The Ponds High School.
Darshanik and Giovanna were formally announced as the City’s Youth Ambassadors for the coming year at a presentation dinner at the Colebee Centre in Doonside.
The talented students were selected for the prestigious positions by a panel of judges after a rigorous application process consisting of interviews, assessments and public speaking.
The pair was selected from a group of six finalists to represent the youth of Blacktown City over the coming 12 months.
Outgoing Youth Ambassadors Bilvika Abburi (The Ponds High School) and Nandika Prasad (Evans High School) handed over the baton to the new representatives.
Blacktown City Mayor Tony Bleasdale OAM said he looked forward to seeing the new ambassadors become agents for positive change for the youth of the City.
“I am very proud of the success of the Youth Ambassador Program and the opportunities it has offered the young people of Blacktown City since 1983,” Mayor Bleasdale said.
“Each year, the program’s applicants continue to impress the judges and we again witnessed an extremely high calibre of nominees.
“I congratulate Darshanik and Giovanna on their selection – I know this opportunity will provide many valuable experiences.”
Darshanik said he was encouraged to apply for the role for a second year running after narrowly missing out on the position in 2021.
“I initially saw the ad for the Youth Ambassador program on Council’s Facebook and decided to give it another shot this year after getting to the final round last year,” he said.
“I do a lot of debating, public speaking and advocacy at school so I thought this would be a great opportunity to explore this further.”
The school captain said he had a list of projects he wanted to champion during his time as Youth Ambassador.
“My idea is getting all the schools in Blacktown City together to select a member of their student body to engage with Council,” he said.
“I am also really passionate about youth mental health. Coming out of COVID, I’d like to see an improvement in this area, especially in terms of school wellbeing programs.”
Giovanna, who is also school captain, said she was inspired to apply for the role and give back to the community after first moving to Blacktown City 3 and a half years ago.
“When I came to Blacktown City, I admired Council so much and wanted to give back to the City in any way I could,” she said.
“As someone of Filipino background, I felt so welcome when I moved to Blacktown and I quickly felt at home.”
The 16-year-old said she was most looking forward to networking and public speaking in her role.
“I love public speaking – it’s one of my favourite things to do. I also can’t wait to see changes and help youth feel more connected.”
Giovanna is also Editor-in-Chief of her school newspaper and has been a member of her school Leos Club since 2019.
For almost 40 years, the Youth Ambassador program has provided young people the chance to gain invaluable experience representing Blacktown City, speaking at public events including Citizenship Ceremonies and Civic Receptions.
Ambassadors have the opportunity to meet high-profile individuals at special events and have the chance to attend a Local Government Conference. They also get to participate as members of both the Sister Cities and Youth Advisory committees.