#DosomethingDay 2016 – Forest Lake Dad Serves

Army Officer and local dad Mike Hansen volunteered earlier this year to help out his son’s youth development group by becoming an adult leader at the unit.

Mike Hansen has been an Officer in the Australian Army for 25 years, serving his country both at home and overseas. At the start of this year, Mike stepped-up to help out his community as well when he saw his sons’ local Australian Air League squadron struggling.

The Australian Air League is a non-profit, aviation orientated youth development organisation which was founded 82 years ago to foster and develop an interest in aviation and traits of good citizenship in young Australians, like Mike’s 11 year old son Vincent, who joined the Forest Lake Squadron last year. “Vincent was really excited about joining. He’s always been interested in planes and flying, but is too young to join other aviation youth groups like the Air Force Cadets,” Mike said. “When we found out about the Air League and that young people can join from 8 years old we took him along to have a look and he wanted to sign-up right away.”

Mike, a former Air Force Cadet, was impressed with the breadth of opportunities and activities available to Cadets in the Australian Air League, observing “they seem to offer a broader curriculum than other cadet organisations.” In his 12 months in the Air League so far, Vincent has been flying, camping and has travelled to the Sunshine Coast to compete in state level competitions twice and will be travelling to Victoria to compete in National level competitions in October this year.

Whilst the opportunities being presented were beneficial to his son, Mike realised that they could do a whole lot more. “There’s so much potential for the Cadets in the organisation, but this wasn’t being fulfilled as we just didn’t have the adult leaders we needed to organise and run more activities,” Mike said. With this in mind, earlier this year Mike signed-up as an Officer at Forest Lake Squadron and is currently undertaking the Air League’s Officer Development Program to qualify him as a uniformed adult leader in the organisation. “I thought it would be a bit of a juggling act with work and family, but the organisation is very mindful of people’s time and commitments and they’ve made the training very flexible and self-paced which makes it a lot easier,” he said. When asked why he would take on the extra work if he thought it might be difficult to make time for it, Mike said “I thought it was important enough to at least give it a go because at the end of the day it would not only benefit my own child, but everyone else’s as well”.

Mike volunteering his time has already started to pay dividends for the squadron, taking some of the load from other volunteers and freeing them up to spend more time with the Cadets and enabling more activities to be conducted. Mike’s example has also been followed by other adults signing-up to help out in non-uniformed support roles.

Mike’s advice to other adults looking for a way to get more involved in their community is “Give the Air League a go. You don’t have to be a pilot or know anything about planes when you join, you just have to have an interest in aviation and working with young people and seeing them succeed.”

The Australian Air League has squadrons across Australia and throughout the South-East Queensland and Wide-Bay regions and membership open to boys and girls 8 to 18 years of age (as Cadets) and adults as either Officers (uniformed leaders) or as Associate Members (non-uniformed supporters). Further information can be found on the Australian Air League Website at www.airleague.com.au, by emailing info@airleague.com.au or by calling 1800 502 175

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