Home' Aurora : Aurora March 2014 Contents 11
www.mn.catholic.org.au Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle
LOCAL GIRL HAS
BY TRACEY EDSTEIN
"I signed up for this wonderful experience so that my
concer ns for my community can be heard."
The speaker is the youngest member of the 2014
NSW Youth Parliament, Sophia Castro, 15, of St
Mar y's High School, Gateshead. Encour aged by her
proud mother, Estrella, Sophia applied and with
the suppor t of the Member for Swansea , Garry
Edwards, she was selected.
Principal of St Mar y's, Lar ry Keating, was delighted
to sponsor Sophia's selection. "Sophia is a model
student who consistently gives of her best in all she
does," said Mr Keating. "She has been an elected
member of St Mary's Student Pastor al Council each
year and has also excelled in the classroom and on
the spor ting field."
Sophia's selection is not surprising, considering
her record of par ticipation and commitment at
St Mary's. She's passionate about debating and
public speaking, and happy to take oppor tunities to
promote causes in which she believes.
As she explains, "YMCA NSW Youth Parliament
focuses on the policies, not the politics . As a
member of the Youth Legislative Assembly, I'll be
composing a bill on a topic impor tant to young
people across NSW, as well as debating and directly
presenting a repor t to senior Member s of the
NSW Parliament such as Premier, the Hon Bar ry
O'Far rell, and NSW Opposition Leader, the Hon
In April Sophia will attend a training camp in
Arcadia where she will meet the other Youth
Parliamentarians and lear n what to expect in
Parliament. "I am on the committee for investigating
communities and at camp we break into our
committees to work on dr afting our legislation. We
also get the chance to nominate and be nominated
for Youth Leadership roles, such a s Youth Premier,
Treasurer, Leader of the House, Whips, Opposition
Leader, Shadow Treasurer, Ministers, Shadow
Ministers and Regional Minister s. There is also a
chance to become Youth Governor which would
be awesome !
"In July, we are going to Yarr amundi for our
residential camp and Youth Sitting Week.
Residential camp is the culmination of all our hard
work -- the presentation of our bills and repor ts in
the NSW Parliament. We'll be sitting in Parliament
for four days , presenting, debating and amending
Sophia welcomes the oppor tunity to highlight
local issues which concer n her; "our deteriorating
health system, and dr ug and alcohol abuse in my
community, especially by young people.
"I also feel that Austr alia's population is growing and
our transpor t system needs to keep up. I hope to
join many youth MPs rallying for a bullet tr ain to
connect NSW to other states."
In the midst of Sophia's parliamentar y
commitments , she's maintaining her Year
10 studies, including being the only girl on
the St Mar y's debating "dream team", and
representing her school in swimming and
"Life as a student of St Mary's can
be hectic, but it's fun. I have had
my ups and downs but that's par t
of school life," said Sophia . "My
friends describe me as 'someone
who always speaks her mind'."
Estrella is with Sophia all the
way; "All her hard work has
paid off. She now knows that
nothing is impossible, and
not to give up, because
Meanwhile, Sophia is a keen
suppor ter of the Newca stle
Knights and no, she hasn't r uled out
a political career later in life.
The Youth Parliament is an
initiative of the YMCA. To
learn more, please visit w w w.
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