Giving back is simply a way of life for Junction volunteer Emily.
Emily, who has been volunteering at the Seaford Meadows Nature Play Group since late 2020, says community spirit ‘runs in the family’.
“My grandparents, who are now in their 80s, were council volunteers until recently. They helped with events, and with transport for the elderly – shopping and errands, things like that,” Emily said. “My parents were also always volunteering around my school, so I guess I got it from them.”
Despite already balancing university studies, a part time job and a university placement, Emily is constantly finding other ways to get involved.
“I’ve always been inspired by the work that Junction does, so I knew I wanted to volunteer somewhere in the organisation,” she said. “Nature Play just seemed right for me.”
Currently a third-year psychology student at Flinders University, Nature Play has since introduced her to a world of children’s psychology.
“I find it interesting how much playing in nature can help children develop mentally – whether that be resilience, fine motor skills or just sparking their imagination,” she said. “When I was younger, I played on playgrounds with bark chips – but these days, it’s all rubber flooring. Nature Play teaches them it’s ok to play with sticks and dirt.”
Emily is also undertaking a placement at Military and Emergency Services Health Australia (MESHA) – a research institute focusing on the mental health and wellbeing of current and former military members, emergency service personnel and their families.
“I’m part of a research project focused on treatments and interventions for personnel with PTSD, and whether these treatments help improve their ability to leave the house, go to the shops, pick up their kids from school etc.” she said. “It’s a great opportunity to learn as much as I can – and then to apply it to other situations too.”
She hopes to eventually use what she’s learned to create impact in lives and communities.
“I love doing whatever I can to improve the lives of others, even if it’s just a small part,” she said. “It’s about being involved in something bigger.”