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Daniel Ricciardo’s driving change for young people

17 December 2021, Impact of Our Work

F1 racing superstar Daniel Ricciardo is passionate about helping young people get the best possible start in life

Eight-time Grand Prix winner and beloved Australian sports personality Daniel Ricciardo has joined Australia’s leading child rights charity Save the Children as an official ambassador.

Through the partnership, Daniel will help shine a light on issues facing children in Australia and around the world with a special focus on education.

Making a personal commitment

“As someone who struggled a bit to remain engaged at school, I’m really excited to be able to tell my personal story to encourage, inspire, and support young people to build the social and emotional skills to achieve and succeed at school,” Daniel says.

Having spent the first COVID-19 lockdown on his family’s farm in Western Australia together with his much-loved niece and nephew, Daniel was reminded that not everyone has an equal chance at life and school. While travelling the world numerous times, Daniel has seen first-hand that not all children have the opportunity to learn from a quality basic education.

It was actually my niece and nephew who made me realise I wanted to work with Save the Children. Looking at them growing up, then thinking about my own childhood, I realised just how fortunate we are with family, schooling, and opportunities beyond. It made me realise that not every child has this, so I wanted to contribute in a meaningful way to children who might need some extra support


Getting hands on with on Hands on Learning

Daniel has started his journey as a Save the Children ambassador with a focus on Hands on Learning, an evidence-based Australian program that connects school students with hands on projects to build life, social, and work skills outside of the classroom. Daniel explains his interest in the program, “I am passionate about supporting young people who don’t connect with learning in the traditional classroom to demonstrate their talents in practical ways which helps them build the confidence to realise their potential.”

The Hands on Learning program addresses the reality that not everyone learns in the same way. The 'one size fits all' curriculum often seen in schools can lead to young people disengaging and dropping out. Research backs this up, indicating that up to 50,000 Australian children are completely detached from formal education at any one time. And with mental health posing a significant challenge for so many young people in recent years, it is vital that a program such as Hands on Learning is available to address the link between health and wellbeing, student disengagement, and academic performance.

In an online Q&A, Daniel recently met with students from around the country involved in Hands on Learning to hear first-hand from them and to share his experience at school. He also made a video with students discussing Hands on Learning which you can watch here.

Hands on Learning has proven to be a highly successful program. It has helped 95 per cent of participants to finish school, get an apprenticeship or to get a job. It is currently delivered in 110 schools along the east coast of Australia, with plans for Save the Children to further expand the program.

“It’s been great to have some direct involvement with the Hands on Learning program,” says Daniel. “Being able to witness young people set a goal, work towards that task and succeed, it’s really empowering for them – and me. Just hearing these children talk with genuine excitement and passion about these opportunities, it’s amazing and something I really think will set them up for future success.”

An opportunity to share the lessons learned

Daniel is excited at the opportunity to be an ambassador and show what Save the Children is doing. “I’m just hopeful that I can share some stories and some advice, that can resonate with young people in their programs. Take it from me, I wasn’t the perfect student at school, but I chased something I was passionate about and for me that’s what’s important. If I can impart that to anyone, I’ll be really happy.”
I don’t think it’s easy being a child at the moment,” he says. “Life just seems a little more complicated compared to when I was growing up. Right now, I think it’s challenging for young people to find their way, so I’m just hoping that we’re able to provide support, help them chase what they’re passionate about. They’re the future and we should be giving them the best possible head-start.”

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