Williamtown-based RAAF F/A-18 pilot SQNLDR Paul Simmons has officially launched a program aimed at youth at risk in the Newcastle and Hunter region.
Called LIFT – for Learning, Inspiration, Friendship and Trust – the organisation has been operating since 2009 in collaboration with other youth development organisations and offers tailored and practical aviation based programs that teach risk management and decision making life skills, while building self-esteem.
Perhaps best known as the RAAF’s Hornet display pilot from 2005 to 2007, Simmons says LIFT was born from his belief and that of other of military pilots that aviation could be used to radically engage at-risk youth, inspiring them to positively tackle adversity and achieve their inherent potential. Simmons has remained a senior Hornet instructor at 2OCU on a part-time basis while developing LIFT.
The organisation is advised by a board of professionals from areas including aviation, accountancy, law, psychology and business compliance and partners with organisations including Allambi Youth Services, Life Without Barriers, the NSW Department of Juvenile Justice and two Hunter region schools.
LIFT is supported by the Newcastle Permanent and the Royal Newcastle Aero Club and is taking its first tentative steps into publicising its activities and trying to attract new sponsorship. To find out more about LIFT’s activities, please visit its website.