Border Mail Post 26 Aug 2018

AUGUST 25 2018 – 1:00PM

The Mandala Project’s father/son and leadership programs aim to bring life full circle

Local News

FOLLOWING THEIR DREAM: Mel and Anthony Nicholson, of Killara, continue to align their careers and their passions through The Mandala Project. Picture: JAMES WILTSHIRE

Combine fathers, sons, fresh air, physical challenges and no screens for a recipe to promote conversations and connections.

A three-day program at Falls Creek in October aims to achieve just that for teenage boys (12 to 15 years) and their fathers or male guardians.

It’s a cornerstone of a new venture by Killara couple Mel and Anthony Nicholson, The Mandala Project, a company devoted to expanding human potential.

With many years’ experience in outdoor education and youth development between them, Mr and Mrs Nicholson came up with their concept in February and thought “we’d break away and do what we love”.

The couple said issues such as family separation, time-poor lives, social media and technology all affected relationships, and male youth suicide remained a huge concern.

“You see the behaviours and the lack of male role models that exist for some of our young people today,” Mr Nicholson said.

The father and son program sought to strengthen family bonds away from everyday busy-ness.

“Just give them time away from life, time away from work, from school, from technology and get up in the Victorian high plains and just hang out, have some conversations and share some stories,” he said.

“We’re not saying that a three-day father and son course is a magic pill, going to reduce youth suicide, but … you create an environment that’s safe and they can open up, you just don’t know what can happen.”

The Mandala Project, named for the circle symbol that represents connections and continuity, also explores youth leadership – an emerging leaders summit took place in May at Bright and another is planned for November in Beechworth.

This four-day schedule examines leadership, networking and project management through guest speakers and activities to take participants out of their comfort zone.

“Some struggle and some really thrive,” Mrs Nicholson said. 

“From a lot of them the feedback that we get is, ‘Actually it’s just given me a good kick up the rear end to go and do things’.”

One participant spoke of her many “ah-ha moments” from the summit in Bright.

“I have more direction and understand my approach to life better,” she said.

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