As part of Generation-Z, I can’t imagine life without social media. It’s my go-to for entertainment, shopping, news, fashion, gossip, trends, games, and so much more.

My name is Jessica Daniels and I was born and raised in Narrogin, a small country town in the WA’s Wheatbelt – 200km South East of Perth. After completing my studies at the local Primary School and Senior High School, I graduated with a Bachelor of Health Promotion at Notre Dame University in Fremantle.

Through my studies, I became aware of the disadvantages that young people in my community face due to the isolation from adequate health support and services. It opened my eyes to the poorer health and wellbeing outcomes that rural and remote communities experience, especially among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and youth populations.

During the 2020 Health and Wellbeing Expo at Narrogin Senior High School, I realised that many young people were not aware of health and wellbeing resources in the Wheatbelt. There was also a limited number of professionals advocating for and promoting better health outcomes for young people.

So it’s no surprise that I thought social media could be a great way to fix this… but I needed funds, support and advice.

Youth Early Intervention Social Media Project

At the end of 2020, I approached Jo Drayton who is the Wheatbelt Suicide Prevention Coordinator at Holyoake. She agreed that there was a gap in communication and advised me to apply for a scholarship from the Australian Health Promotion Association (AHPA).

I was thrilled when AHPA informed me that I had won a Rural Scholarship which is funded by Healthway WA. I am now implementing this 6-month scholarship at Holyoake to develop my proposed Youth Early Intervention Social Media Project (YEISMP) in the Wheatbelt.

The YEISMP is a health promotion social media campaign for young people aged 12 to 18 years who live in the Wheatbelt. After researching several campaign names and logos with many young people, we decided on ‘Within REACH’ (an acronym for Resilience, Empowerment, Action, Connection, Health).

We launched this campaign during WA Youth Week in April 2021 on Instagram and Facebook, and it has already gained many followers.

Within REACH is a reliable and trustworthy resource that provides up-to-date information, support and guidance on important topics and issues young people face. This includes alcohol and illicit drug use, mental, physical and sexual health, social and emotional wellbeing, cyberbullying, life skills, and career information for life after school.

This campaign aims to link young people to information, support and guidance to make positive and healthy life choices. Posts include links to helpful websites and helplines, interviews with local support services and subject matter experts, and strategies to improve health and wellbeing.

I hope Within REACH will become a safety net for young people in crisis, and a place of support for others who don’t know where to go or what to do next.

While young people are usually drawn to risky behaviours, I believe we can work towards reducing the associated harm by promoting positive life choices to ultimately improve their short- and long-term health and wellbeing outcomes.

I appreciate the generosity of AHPA, Healthway WA, and Holyoake to allow me the opportunity to pursue a career that I am deeply passionate about. The support I have received has been wonderful and I look forward to continuing to work alongside Holyoake to promote health in our communities.

For more information search withinreachwheatbelt on Facebook and Instagram