One thing the Belmont ALC does is that it removes barriers to educational opportunity. It removes them for young people who have found it hard to overcome a variety of obstacles – things like family difficulties, poor attendance, being easily distracted, or finding it hard to keep up academically. Sometimes these are barriers which have appeared in front of young people which are out of their control, sometimes they are barriers brought on by their own behaviour. Whatever the source, they are barriers that now need taking down with some else’s help. The ALC staff and program have become that help – whether through being a listener in times of family trouble, organising a referral to an outside agency, mentoring young people through work placements, or providing ongoing educational support. The ALC has helped clear a path towards a different future.
After the end last ALC gradtuation ceremony in October, quite a number of the young men and women lingered, along with their families. They were not sure it seemed, that they really wanted to go. In the ensuing weeks, some of them returned to get some help and advice – to revisit a place they felt at home. It is the establishment of an education centre that engenders that kind of belonging that is perhaps the greatest achievement of the ALC so far.
As in the previous year, there have been many challenges to overcome, particularly for students and families who for whatever reason have found it hard to find a place in traditional schooling, but all things considered, the ALC continues to play an important role in being a beacon of hope for young people who had seemingly reached a dead end with their schooling, and looking more broadly, the community of Belmont is a better place for its presence.