Jonny Valenta may only be the tender age of 11 years, but already this budding Arden Anglican School student has learned the importance of both goal setting and having a voice.
One year ago, Jonny made a pledge to do a backflip on his BMX bike just a year later on Channel 9’s This Time Next Year program. At the time of making the pledge, Jonny was nine and had been riding the BMX bike for only a year. When asked what inspired him to make the pledge, Jonny explained: “One day we were at a skate park and saw bike riders doing tricks and I said to my Dad ‘I want to do tricks one day’.” Jonny said he was inspired to go on This Time Next Year as “I wanted to learn about the TV industry and I thought that it would be cool to be on TV!”
A determined Jonny worked towards his goal by riding 2 – 3 times a week in order to master the backflip. Recently Jonny returned to the show to honour his pledge (aired on the 7th August) and successfully performed his backflip, much to the delight of the TV audience and his proud parents. An excited Jonny shared: “It felt good because I had completed my pledge and it has made me more confident in front of other people.”
When asked how he managed to do the trick, Jonny shared: “I visualised what I had to do and how I had to do it.” Jonny said that the most challenging part about the pledge/process was “overcoming the fear of doing the flip onto a hard surface and also in the TV Studio.”
Jonny’s success is a great example of the benefits of setting goals and working towards them. As Jonny shared: “Having a goal gives you something to work towards and it makes you feel really good when you achieve it.” His advice to other students is: “Believe in yourself and try your hardest.”
Mr Greg Stocken, Arden Upper Primary School Teacher, reflected: “Jonny’s achievements with his BMX and Mountain Bike riding are impressive and truly inspirational. We have been focused on the setting of goals at a classroom and extra-curricular level here at Arden as research has proven that it leads to improved student outcomes. He is a living example of the importance of goal setting and a great role model to his peers.”
Jonny was well supported by his family (especially his dad and uncle), coaches and his BMX riding friends. His coaches (Danny and Harry), trained him for the flip at Monster Skatepark as part of the Projectfreeride Sessions. Jonny explained: “My coaches are awesome. They knew that I wanted to do the backflip but I couldn’t tell them about my pledge until just before we filmed the final session for This Time Next Year. First of all I practiced riding into the foam pit at and landing on my back into the foam. I hit the wall next to the foam pit the first time that I tried it, so it was scary for my Dad to watch! I did this for weeks and then I actually went for the full flip into the foam pit. After I got used to how this felt, I then landed the flip in the foam pit and onto a mat. I had to get used to landing onto the mat for months and then I tried landing onto a ‘resi- mat” which is a ramp with a soft landing. I was super happy when I was able to do this. Everyone at Monster and my BMX friends were really encouraging.”
When asked what he enjoys about the sport, Jonny shared: “I like riding BMX because it is a fun and challenging environment where everyone is encouraging and it a really interesting sport.” He concluded: “When I’m riding any of my bikes I feel like I enter a new world where I can be myself and do what I love.”
Jonny plans to keep on riding and learn how perform tricks even better in the future. His next goal is to do a 540 spin landing on his BMX. Jonny said his long term goal is “to compete in the Redbull Joyride Mountain Biking competition in Whistler, Canada.”
Prior to completing his pledge, Jonny and his whole family were involved in the community consultation regarding the development of a Ryde Outdoor Youth and Family Recreation Space in March, 2017 and then spoke at June Ryde Council meetings in support of the development (which includes a skate park). His mother, Jane Montgomery, explained: “We wanted to have the opportunity to create a space for our youth and all our community’s health, happiness and well- being.” The space was approved in July 2017 for Meadowbank Park, demonstrating that you are never too young to voice your opinions and work towards community goals.