Meet Emergency Services Cadets Adult Leader – Yehezqel Schuster
Why did you join PCYC Queensland?
My first experience participating in PCYC activities was at Gin Gin’s Operation Ignite (concentrated two-day Emergency Services Cadet program) in February 2020. Before this I hadn’t really understood what role the organisation was playing in communities.
Through Operation Ignite I enjoyed learning about the different services and how cadets could assist the community while being educated about career prospects in these integral emergency roles.
Operation Ignite was the first PCYC Queensland led event in Gin Gin, and its success led to the establishment of the PCYC ESC Gin Gin unit at the end of 2020. I became one of the first people to join as an Adult Leader – with my application processed on the day I turned 18.
In just a few months we have become one of the strongest Emergency Services Cadets units in Queensland, with 12 Adult Leaders and more than 26 Cadets between the ages of 12-17. Skills I learnt as an Army Cadet in 2019 have certainly become useful in my new role as a Cadet Adult Leader!
What do you enjoy about volunteering with PCYC Queensland?
I absolutely love the atmosphere of weekly events – the cadets turn up with their uniforms and are always so energetic and eager to spend time with their friends and new cadets, all while learning countless useful skills on the way.
It is a wonderful feeling knowing you are part of an organisation giving disadvantaged kids the opportunity to be involved in something productive and fun.
You can tell some of them may be going through difficulties in their lives – but every Monday they get a chance to take a breath, have some fun, and recharge with their friends. The fact that no fees apply to join as a cadet gives anyone the opportunity to be involved in the community, no matter their financial state.
The uniforms, games, and teambuilding exercises give them a sense of worth, purpose, and responsibility. At PCYC Emergency Services Cadets, everyone is an equal and everyone is treated with respect – an important aspect that many young people need at a time when they often feel misunderstood.
I just think it is awesome that we can provide this kind of support to young people, especially those who may be going through tough times.
What opportunities have you gained from being connected to PCYC Queensland?
Even though PCYC ESC Gin Gin unit was only established recently, the Operation Ignite event last year opened my mind to the countless rewarding prospects available through the emergency services. It was that event that led me to apply for a junior position at my nearest fire brigade. If it wasn’t for Operation Ignite, I might have never become involved at all.
My role as a drill instructor for the Emergency Services Cadets has also challenged me to grow personally in multiple ways.
Prior to my appointment, I extremely disliked social events with peers, and suffered with fears of ‘being in the spotlight’ and leadership positions. After a few months in my new role however, I discovered that a lot of that self-doubt and anxiety was something I could change. My confidence, social and leadership skills have since blossomed, and it is a powerful feeling to know this is no longer holding me back.
What advice would you give a young person thinking of engaging with their local PCYC Queensland?
Take the plunge! I know it can be a daunting thought to jump into something that drives you to develop in areas that might make you uncomfortable, but sometimes you just need a little push!
The amount of knowledge, support, and fun that you can experience as a cadet or ESC member makes it an opportunity that could really change your life.
The PCYC Emergency Services Cadets program is about growth and becoming a better you, even if you decide that joining a service isn’t the life for you. Qualities such as reliability, responsibility, and leadership all contribute to how you impact the world around you and at our Gin Gin unit we encourage our members to always reflect their best values and to ‘stand tall’ in the face of challenging times.
What is your favourite PCYC Queensland moment?
Our Christmas movie-night late last year was our first community event, and the first time our Cadets had the opportunity to display their dedication and teamwork for the first time.
Needless to say it was very successful, and our unit received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from the community on the Cadet’s behaviour and conduct as a unit. It was a very proud moment for all involved, and a great introduction for Gin Gin to see the constructive impact of weekly PCYC ESC activities.
The final week of cadet activities last year also ended with the promotion of three of our most promising and ambitious Cadets.
Following the announcement of our two section leaders, the cadets were asked who they would have selected to be their cadet unit leader. They all came to a resounding result, picking the same Cadet who had also been selected by Adult Leaders for this new position.
It was a very powerful moment of unity and acknowledgement between the youths in which the efforts of this hardworking cadet was properly recognised, and I look forward to more encouraging moments in the future.
What does the future hold for you?
For our ESC Gin Gin unit, we will continue to refine the itinerary of activities and expand the learning opportunities available to cadets. More involved and hands-on events and courses are currently being developed so cadets have a chance to put all those skills and emergency procedures to the test in real life situations.
For me personally, I intend to pursue more advanced courses and training including FAS (firefighter advanced skills), crew-leader and community safety over the next few years.
In the meantime however, I am greatly enjoying being the youngest Adult Leader of one of Queensland’s best cadet units, and I can see a very promising future for PCYC cadets and the wider Gin Gin community as a result of the establishment of this unit!