Student embodies Olympic spirit

OLYMPIC SPIRIT: Allendale East Area School assistant principal Suzie Mitchell and principal Kylie Smith (right) congratulate Year 10 student Luke Bald for being selected and included in this year's Australian Olympic Change-Maker program.

By Molly Taylor

AN ALLENDALE East Area School student who independently operated sport programs to help minimise gender stereotyping has been recognised at a national level.

Year 10 student Luke Bald was selected as one of 20 Australian Olympic Change-Maker program finalists this year, celebrating youths who actively demonstrated Olympic spirit and have driven positive change in their communities.

Nominated by assistant principal Suzie Mitchell, Mr Bald was recognised for golf and dance school sport programs he coordinated.

Video nominations were assessed upon students’ ability to demonstrate leadership, social impact, innovation and the inclusion of the 2020 program theme Discover Tomorrow.

Mr Bald was part of the inaugural Australian Olympic Change-Maker Virtual Summit held on September 17, which connected Australian students and schools in one major online event.

The national summit was held virtually this year, in line with government guidelines.

He has lived in the Limestone Coast his whole life and is a long-time Allendale East resident.

Honoured to be recognised as a finalist, Mr Bald said his programs aimed to help put an end to male and female sport stereotyping.

“Dance and golf are the two sports I am involved in and am very passionate about and I wanted to try and break down that stigma around what people think,” he said.

“A lot of people think golf is an old man’s sport and dance is only for girls and I want people to know that its not the case and anybody can participate in those sports if they want to.”

Involving Year 4, 5, 6 and 7 students, Mr Bald was granted $1900 through Sporting Schools SA to run his five-week My Golf SA golf program last year, which involved Limestone Coast golf guru Craig Davis.

He was more recently granted an additional $2000 through Sporting Schools SA to host a secondary program to which involved Year 7, 8, 9 and 10 students over a three-week period.

As a dancer for 12 years, Mr Bald said he saw it fitting to also host a dance program, which was merged into his class’ physical education lessons.

“I taught them correct ways to warm up and stretch before dancing and also a routine which was around two and a half minutes long…They all seemed to really enjoy it,” Mr Bald said.

“Once again, to try and break down that stigma.

“I think a lot of people wanted to give it a go because it was something different and it’s not something people usually go and try out for.”

Mr Bald said he hoped what he had done would encourage people to step out of their comfort zone and give new things a go.

“I certainly hope kids can look at me as I guess a role model and if they want to do something then they should just do it,” he said.

Mr Bald thanked the school community for its support.

Allendale East school principal Kylie Smith said Mr Bald was an outstanding young person who had demonstrated many leadership attributes during his schooling.

Ms Smith said Mr Bald had been recognised for his achievements in many other was.

“Luke additionally has been recognized by educators and leaders within our Blue Lake Partnership,” Ms Smith.

“Luke has been a STEM Ambassador for our local region for approximately three years and has provided strong leadership, mentoring and most recently invited to judge at a regional competition for primary schools.

“We are all very proud of Luke’s achievements and we look forward to continuing to support him in achieving future dreams and aspirations.”