James Peterson is the dynamic and impressive CEO of a dynamic and impressive young charity called breakingFree which visits high schools throughout Australia, delivering a free mental health and personal development program, which consists of 2 presentations delivered on separate days to groups of grade 10, 11 and 12 students, teaching them practical ways to best look after their mental health.
The Rotary Club of Brisbane has been supporting breakingFree since 2019 and it was great to have James drop in at yesterday's meeting to give the club an update of how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting both schools and his charity. James reported that the biggest problem COVID-19 brings for students is the sheer uncertainty. It is hard to manage your life when on top of a new kind of external assessment this year they need to worry about whether there will even be final exams and if there will be any opportunities for them to pursue in 2021. In many students this just increases the anxiety of an already anxious time.
James also told members that COVID-19 brings huge challenges both financial and logistical to his charity. Quite apart from the fact that the coalface operations of breakingFree were completely curtailed for several months, plans for expansion have had to be put on hold and finances have had to be husbanded carfully. Fortunately for breakingFree, James is able to take advantage of his business training. breakingFree has been careful to hold contingency funds to support expenses while the income pauses and while the school vists stopped, James was able to focus his team on a root-and-branch rework of much of breakingFree's programme content. As a result, breakingFree while not expanding activities in 2020, will finish the year with almost the same number of delivered programmes in 2019, at a higher level of quality.
The Rotary Club of Brisbane is proud to be associated with breakingFree and it was good to see you again, mate!