The young Italo-Australian was inspired to be community-minded after taking dancing and singing classes when she was younger.
“I really enjoyed dancing and singing and helping out in classes,” DeBellis said.
“That’s when I got my passion for helping young girls.
“I used to sing heaps but then at one eisteddfod, I forgot the words to a whole song!”
The experience of stage fright made DeBellis think that it would better to help others to overcome their fears, instead of experiencing that same stricken feeling.
DeBellis went on to volunteer at Nadine’s Academy of Dance in Kingsgrove for four years, teaching kids and helping them to overcome shyness.
She said that when young women are scared, she begins in a small way, encouraging them to work through warm ups before building up their performance skills in groups.
DeBellis thinks a lot of young women need encouragement to boost their confidence.
“You have to be the good voice inside their head,” she said.
After considering her career options down the track, DeBellis became enthralled by STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
DeBellis completed a 10-day course at the National Computer Science School (NCSS) at the University of Sydney, which was an intensive course of computer programming and website development, including elements of coding, robotics and embedded systems.
After noticing a lack of women in STEM area career paths, DeBellis was inspired to develop a school program called Code Ninja.
A group of STEM devotees gather at lunchtimes at St Ursula’s College Kingsgrove to teach girls coding in a supportive environment.
DeBellis said there is a stigma surrounding science and maths subjects for girls, where they are mainly encouraged in other fields such as creative areas, or home-making.
“They don’t have the same confidence as boys,” she said.
Since starting up her lunchtime workshops, participants have grown in number from 10 to 29.
DeBellis was one of a small group of winners of the annual Betty Makin Youth Awards, which also recognised a volunteer who helps keep young people safe on the street after dark, a mentor for young Indigenous people and an active advocate for marginalised young people.
Hosted by the City of Sydney, the awards recognise young individuals and groups who have excelled in educational, vocational and community projects over the past year, as well as individuals or organisations dedicated to working with young people.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said it was inspiring to hear how the city's young people were helping others in their local community.
“We’re proud to host these annual awards, which honour the great Redfern community leader Betty Makin, who devoted so much time and energy to helping young people,” the Lord Mayor said.
“Our young people are tomorrow’s leaders and innovators, so taking time to recognise their achievements is very important.”
Winners under the categories “community minded” and “creative” were each awarded a $500 scholarship to help them achieve their goals.