Most teenagers wouldn’t dream of spending their weekends raising money for charity, but Sunshine student Alannah Ciangura loves helping her community. She spoke to Samantha Walker about winning the Lions Club of Sunshine ‘youth of the year’ award


What was it like growing up in Sunshine?

It was a really good environment to grow up in. I have a lot of family friends here and have made a lot of my own friends; I’ve grown up with them.


What are some of your favourite memories of growing up in the area?

I just remember always going to parks around Sunshine. I’d go with my family, especially the one near Wright Street – we used to go there all the time. And we’d go to the Brimbank festival every year. I’ve been going to that for a long time and always have good memories of it.


What are your other favourite places to go to?

I love Sunshine marketplace and the cinema and everything like that.


You made a movie, right?

Yeah, a short movie for Village Sunshine cinemas so I got to watch it for the Sunshine Film Festival. It was a horror theme for Halloween. There were a whole lot of people in the cinema – it was booked out. There were lots of short films on that day.


You’ve just won the Lions Club of Sunshine youth of the year award. What did you need to do to compete?

They interviewed me and asked about my cultural, sporting and academic activities. Then I had to write up a speech and deliver it.


What was your speech about?

About how Islam is portrayed in the media. Sometimes media coverage is a bit negative and untrue. Just how other people perceive that is what I focused on. I’m not Muslim myself, but my friends are and I can see how it affects them.


What kind of cultural activities did you talk about for the Lions Club award?

Just things I’ve been doing in the community. I’ve been in the Leo’s Club (the Marian Leo Club is a Lions project where young people do community work) and involved with the St Vincent de Paul club – that was through my school. I’ve been a member of Leo’s for two years and it’s mostly doing barbecues and raising money for different organisations.


And you dance and play sport as well, right?

I don’t dance any more, but I do drama and musical theatre. I stopped the dancing just because I’m in VCE; I had to stop a lot of my activities. I did swimming, too, but I just recently stopped everything because of year 11.


From here you’re going on to regionals. Where are you planning to go if you win the national prize next year?

I haven’t thought that far ahead. That would be really exciting though. I don’t know – it would be a big shock to me, but it would be amazing if I won that. Going in to the final round, I’m excited but a bit nervous, too. I have to create a new speech now, but that’s in March next year so I’ve got time to think about it.


Alannah will compete against winners from six other western suburbs Lions Clubs in the regional finals early next year. From there she has the chance to compete at state and national levels before the overall winner is decided in May.