BILLY carts and crafts are helping Apollo Bay teens bond with the community.
Apollo Bay P-12 College and Otway Health and Community Services have started a mentoring program for boys in years seven and eight.
The students are building billy carts with their mentors ahead of a race at the end of the month.
A similar program for girls is in its second year, focusing on “the life of a woman in Apollo Bay” with activities such as craft and cooking.
The pairs will work on individual projects in term three.
Otway Health’s health promotion officer Jess Dorney said the program matched the 25 students with mentors based on their interests.
Ms Dorney said the initiative helped improve the teens’ social skills and resilience, as well as creating “a greater sense of community cohesion and connection”.
“It is great to see students connecting with community members from a wide range of backgrounds and ages where they might otherwise not connect,” she said.
Student Millie Davidson said she was learning about cooking with her mentor Libby Riches.
“So far I have learnt how to make pasta, Thai stir-fry and chicken pies and chocolate brownies,” Millie said.
“I really enjoy being able to eat what we create each week,” she said.
Mentor Pete Sandra of Apollo Bay said he was having as much fun as the students.
“I know that the boys are definitely having fun and learning new skills, but I have to say that I think I get just as much out of it,” Mr Sandra said.
“Building the billy carts each week without pressure really takes you back to your childhood and allows you to be creative and just have fun with your mentees,” he said.
Apollo Bay P-12 College nurse Michelle Fillmore described the initiative as a “real community program”.
“We’ve had lots of support from the community in donations and in time, including from the hardware story and the RSL,” Mrs Fillmore said.