Campaspe Shire 2014 Young Citizen of the Year Tyler Lethlean describes himself as a quiet achiever and someone who loves to help others. The 19-year-old sat down with Rhiannon Horrell for a chat about what keeps him busy, his plans for the future and his volunteering work.July 1, 2014 3:38am
Tell me about yourself and your background.
I was born in Preston and I moved to Echuca when I was three or four and I’ve been here ever since. I went to primary school at Echuca West and then high school at Echuca College.
What have been some of the big influences in your life so far?
The friends that I’ve chosen have led me on a good path. they’ve kept me out of trouble. My biggest influences would be Mum and Dad of course. My mum part-owns Savoury Bite and my dad is a head chef at TAFE.
And you’re working at Community Living and Respite Services?
Yes, I do the afternoon program at the special school and I also work at Alexander House, that’s morning shifts and afternoon sort of stuff and weekend work. That’s where older people and some younger kids stay over and you help them through the day, take them to any activities, help them with lunch and that sort of stuff. We help people with all different sorts of disabilities. It’s challenging — just like every job I suppose but I just love the job too much. The challenge is always there, but there’s always someone there to help you so it’s not daunting or anything like that. It definitely opens your eyes. You definitely know that you’re a bit better off, knowing that you can help them out and you feel a bit better about yourself.
You’ve been involved in some of the One and All Inclusion project activities. Can you tell me about that?
Yeah I’ve basically been involved in all of them since about year 9, just any opportunity that comes up, I just take it. I’m heavily involved in the Rockets, I did the One and All debutante ball, Queenscliff camp, sport and athletic days .
What are your plans for the future?
It’s one thing at a time at the moment. I have more of an idea about what I want to do now, which would either be a teacher or an aid at a specialist school, or work for child protection — something along that sort of avenue. Something that helps people, that’s what I love doing. I’ve just got to find out what it is.
Do you see yourself as a role model for those around you?
I would like to think I could be a role model for some kids to just get out and help out and see what they can gain from giving and make the right choices and keep your life on track and see what places it can take you. I’d like to think I can be a role model for some kids.
What’s your involvement with Rotary? You went on a leadership conference last year?
Yeah I went on a RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Award) trip last year, I haven’t really been involved with Rotary up until then. I’m just going to more Rotary dinners and all that sort of stuff now — trying to get more involved there and then see what sort of community projects we can gain from that. So that’s something that’s on my mind. Some sort of community project I’d like to get underway in the future.
At the December conference, there was about 40 young adults, aged from about 18 to 25, and we had day after day of guest speakers and group activities and everyone was from different cultures and backgrounds, and it just taught you all about realising who you were and what you want to achieve, and becoming more of a leader. It was a big leadership week — it was grous.
Have you had to do much public speaking? Do you enjoy it?
I don’t hate it but for some reason I always get suddenly nervous when I’m about to do it and once I’m going it’s all right. I had to do a speech on volunteers day and that went all right. I’ve done a few talks and I did a talk at Rotary after RYLA. Speeches aren’t something that I wouldn’t do but it’s the only thing that kind of gets to me. Apart from that everything else is fine.
I see via Facebook that you may have been kicked in the head recently by accident?
Yeah at footy — I dived (apparently, because I can’t remember) and smothered the ball with my head and it hit me right in the temple and knocked me out. That was three weeks ago. It’s probably one of the best falcons anyone could ever see. That’s what I can take away from it. I had a headache for about five days but then I was fine.
You were also involved in planning a trip to Cambodia. Can you tell me about that?
Instead of going to Queensland I went to Cambodia with a group of other kids. So throughout the year we were fundraising and having barbecues. We helped organise the fundraiser and while we were over there we went to schools and orphanages and different villages and helped out by donating. For a few days we helped out by building a library, that we donated the materials to, and orphanages we were donating money. One of the villages we gave them money to build solar panels and different lighting. It was just a big help-out sort of holiday, but it was good, it was definitely something that opens your eyes. There was about 13 or 14 students and two teachers.
It wasn’t my first overseas trip. I’ve been to Bali and Thailand but Cambodia was definitely a lot more third-world. It was a good wake up call. We worry about such stupid, tiny little things and they’ve got it so much harder but they’re so much happier. It annoys me that some people can get so annoyed, frustrated and angry and upset over the littlest things.
Will you do any more travel to developing countries?
I’d love to. I definitely liked helping out at the orphanage so if I can find a volunteering sort of thing, even through Rotary, I would definitely do it and I’d definitely recommend it too.
We did a story about you and three mates in 2012 when you had a custom-built four-seater bike built. Can you tell me about that?
Yeah, one day my mate found a four-seater bike on the internet and he said, "oh cool lets make that", so his uncle helped make it for us.
It was just out of the blue — a spur of the moment sort of thing — it’s not everyday you have a four-seater bike with three of your best mates riding it. It was quite funny actually.
Do you still use it?
It’s tucked away in someone’s garage at the moment, we haven’t used it in ages because two of my mates are at uni in Albury and two of us are still in Echuca but they’re back soon so we may have to whip that out again sometime. The first ride we went for around the street, it definitely turned a lot of heads. It was definitely tricky to manoeuvre but we got there in the end.
Is there another side to you or is what you see what you get?
I’m a laid back sort of person, I’m more of a quiet achiever I suppose, I just go about my business and try not to boast or anything like that because that’s just me. Yep - I’m a very quiet person - a little bit too quiet actually.
Did you have to deal with much peer pressure at school?
We had it pretty good — we loved our sport and fitness. We weren’t really big party people and drugs are obviously huge, especially in Echuca, but even though we’re legal and going out, that stuff doesn’t cross our mind. We know that it’s just not worth it.
Where do you think you’ll be in five years’ time?
I’d like to think I’m in a career that helps people out, even like a mentoring sort of position. Helping younger kids through those bad stages in their life when they are going through problems with drugs and that sort of stuff. I think that the avenue I’d like to go down. And if it’s possible I’d love to be in Canada. I’ve never been there but I’ve always wanted to go. Hopefully in five years time I’ve got the career that I really want and I’m settling down into it.
I’ve heard heaps about how good it is. I’m not even much of a skier or snowboarder. I just love the alpine ranges and the wilderness. I like going hiking — it just looks picture-perfect really.
On Australia Day you were named the Campaspe Shire 2014 Young Citizen of the Year. What kind of impact has that had?
I definitely felt a whole lot more responsibility when I got it. I was very surprised to receive it and I’m sure a lot of other people who have received that award don’t feel they deserve it because they’re just doing what they love and helping out. Don’t get me wrong — I was ecstatic to get it. I don’t do it for recognition and now that I’ve got it, it’s given me the boost that I needed to do more. So now I know that I can do more and I can be more of a leader and it definitely helps out in the sense that I think people recognise you as a leader. It’s given me more of a purpose. It’s helped me realise what sort of path I want to go down.
And you missed the ceremony on the day. What happened?
I didn’t actually know I was getting the award, so the morning of I got a phone call and I had to rush down there as quickly as I could, because I had no idea I was receiving it. It was a mishap in communication I suppose. Would have been nice to be there but still got it. I kind of felt rude that I wasn’t there. People might’ve thought that I didn’t care but I did.
What keeps you busy at the moment?
Working, footy and I’m trying to knuckle down to figure out what I’m doing because next year it’s study or get into a full time career. I’m not sure if I’ll go to uni or TAFE or if I’ll keep going at CLRS. That’s something I need to start deciding soon. I’ve always wanted to help people. At one stage I wanted to be a firefighter but then I’ve realised it’s not all about saving people but in a different sort of sense with a mentoring role and being able to help out in any way I can.
Do you think you’re mature for your age?
In work sense I think I’m fairly mature. Mature when I’m with my friends and that sort of stuff? Probably not. I’m probably the least mature. But I know when to be serious and I know when to be mature but I can still joke around.
What are your passions outside of work?
I love music and I love sport — just being active. I love travelling and doing what I can to help out where needed.
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