When Elaina Baker isn’t busy working to improve the lives of youth in Beaudesert and surrounds, you’ll most likely find her at the gym – which is like her second home – or savouring a coffee.
The quietly considered Beaudesert local finds deep satisfaction in her role as Regional Coordinator for Scenic Rim and Logan with Traction, a not-for-profit organisation which delivers hands-on programs to keep local youth engaged.
Elaina, 26, grew up in Kooralbyn after her family moved there when she was 11, and she now calls Beaudesert home.
“Mum and Dad love Kooralbyn – they’ve always come out here since the early days when they started dating, and we’d do road trips out here from the Gold Coast all the time as kids,” she said.
Elaina was learning from home well before learning from home was a thing.
Aside from brief stints going to school in Kooralbyn and Victoria, she was home schooled throughout primary and high school.
Elaina studied a Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) at Griffith University and volunteered at the Beaudesert State School Special Education Unit and at Traction, before becoming a casual mentor at Traction and progressing to her current coordinator role.
“I think I just wanted to help people – I went through a lot as a teenager and figured if I could help someone else in the future then that’s what I wanted to do,” she said.
“I love making a difference in young people’s lives, watching them grow in confidence and having fun and seeing those positive changes that happen throughout the term. I love the first day with them when they come in and they’re all quiet because it’s a new experience, and then by the end of the day everyone’s talking and having fun and you realise just having that small group makes a difference and brings out everyone’s personalities.”
Elaina’s own experiences are part of what compels her to help others.
“My mental health was shocking as a teenager, and I went through some pretty dark times, but I’ve come pretty much out the other side of it,” she said.
“As clichéd as it sounds, it does get better. There are always people around you who are there to support you. Take it easy on yourself.”
She said there was plenty to love about life.
“It’s not carefree but I don’t have the responsibilities of my own family or anything like that just yet, so I can just do what I want to do and enjoy time with friends and family and do the things that make me feel happy,” she said.
“In the future I would love to travel, probably go back to uni for my Masters at some stage and work as a psychologist.”