Running a Year 12 study lounge

Image: Running a Year 12 study lounge

An innovative approach to reaching out to stressed out students

I recently interviewed Heidi Wong about a unique way for Year 12 students to reach out to their friends. Heidi and her team set up a lounge for other students to relax, study, and share the highs and lows of life in Year 12.

1. Why a local study lounge for HSC students? (i.e. what is the need?)

I was once an HSC student so I can see just how stressful year 12 can be. I’ve had friends who’ve had anxiety attacks or have fallen into depression from the pressures that we all face as year 12 students. The Study Lounge provides a relaxed, comforting and caring environment whereby students can study collaboratively, and can share each other’s burdens. The leaders are also there to remind them that we’ve been there and done that...and we survived!

The HSC is also a time where the masses gather around local libraries to study. These libraries often become noisy and overcrowded. There is also an underlying pressure at libraries to stay silent and to study without being able to stretch your legs and take a break. The lounge is a no pressure environment where you can spread yourself out over two desks, nibble on snacks, talk to your peers, and walk outside for some fresh air.

2. How did you raise awareness last year?

Our marketing was highly response driven. We would hand out business cards at local “youth hot spots” such as Strathfield plaza, Burwood Westfield and local libraries. These cards would then direct students to a lounge website with more information. We also connected students through a Facebook event, and utilised available networks (such as our youth group) to help spread the word amongst their friends.

3. How many Christians came? What was their response

Approximately 10 – they were excited to bring their friends along, and were happy to expose their non Christian friends to a ‘cool and free Christian community’.

4. How many non-Christians came? What was their response?

Approximately 30 – they were overwhelmed by the support, and enjoyed the free services. They asked all the right questions ‘why are you doing this for free?!’ which gave us opportunities to make Jesus look great! The best part was seeing non Christians mingling with Christian leaders/students during break-out time. They would help each other study, motivate and comfort one another. Friendships were built and we had so many unexpected opportunities for Christ centered conversations.

5. How would you do things differently this year?

Engage the church community earlier in the process so that we can get more support, and get more congregational members excited to serve and be part of this ministry.

We’ve improved our hospitality / follow-up services to ensure that relationships can be strengthened even when the lounge has ended.

The lounge is also running over 2 months, once a week to meet the demand of students wanting longer lounge hours. This will help us to develop and strengthen the relationships that we make at the lounge.

Find out more by going to http://studylounge.org

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