Messages of hope from young people decorate a renovated Wodonga facility that aims to help create such positive feelings.
I’m glad he made something beautiful out of a moment that wasn’t so beautifulKate Macdonald
Albury Wodonga Health officially opened its refurbished North East Child and Adolescent Mental Health office in High Street on Thursday.
The service’s operations director Karen Black said a $500,000 Victorian Government grant made the much-need upgrade possible.
“The building was old, tired, not as welcoming as it could have been,” she said.
“We want our young people and our families who are coming into this service to have a great feel when they get here, to feel comfortable and to feel it’s a welcoming environment.”
The renovation included increased interview space, better reception and waiting areas, video conferencing and improved security for staff.
Albury Wodonga Health acting board chairman Phillip Williams, who officially opened the facility, thanked the project’s architect Jovaras Westland Partnership and builder Connelly Construction Services for their efforts.
A schools art competition run in conjunction with the project announced the winning entries, now displayed on the office’s walls.
Psychologist Evelyn McDiarmid said the competition asked the students to present what mental health meant to them.
“Just to give them an opportunity to be able to express mental health in a way they may not necessarily be able to express in other forms,” she said.
“We got themes of, I suppose, hope and themes of change, improvement … great contrast between kids that have been struggling and kids who have been to our service or another service to then get to a place of feeling more hopeful, feeling more engaged.”
Benjamin Taylor-Macdonald, of Wodonga Middle Years College Felltimber campus, won the high school category from Cathryn McLean’s artwork Greater Blue and Sasha Newman with Hope and Blue.
Benjamin, 15, learned of his success on Monday, his birthday.
“I was very excited and happy,” he said.
His artwork includes hand prints, dot painting, green ribbon, a mental health slogan and part of a guitar.
“I got angry one night and I broke my guitar,” Benjamin said.
But instead of just throwing pieces away, he incorporated them into the painting.
His proud mother Kate Macdonald said her son liked painting as well as other forms of art.
“He has a very creative, artistic side,” she said.
“I’m glad he made something beautiful out of a moment that wasn’t so beautiful.”
Wodonga Middle Years School Felltimber campus year 9 students claimed the group prize with Together We Will Grow, with Volcano by Wodonga Senior Secondary College placing second.
In the primary school section, Mount Beauty Primary School year 5/6 children won with Positive Thoughts.
Students from Beechworth Secondary College also took part in the competition.
North East Child and Adolescent Mental Health works with children from 0 to 18 years who need specialist mental health services and will benefit from a team approach.