Semester 1 at Duncraig SHS ended with a bang as the annual ALIVE Festival took centre stage.
The three-day event, which has been running for more than 12 years, is coordinated by chaplain Jayden Brand and encourages students and staff to live mentally, physically and socially healthier.
Each year the festival carries a different theme and for 2017, it was ‘Groovin the You’.
“The idea behind ‘Groovin the You’ – as chosen by the students – was all about embracing who you are and staying true to yourself, because when you’re truly being yourself, that’s when you’re in your best groove,” Jayden said.
The days were full of all kinds of activities: inflatable wipe-out machine, bubble soccer, archery tag, photo booth, UV DJ room, talent show, chill zone with mindfulness activities, staff vs student tournaments, extended recess and lunches, Health Expo, inflatable obstacle courses and bungee run.
There were also motivational talks from Adam Przytula and Marksman Lloyd from Armed for Life and an opportunity for students to throw a cream pie or dunk some very willing and courageous staff.
Local musician Kurt Carrera and band The Faux entertained the crowd along with a DJ and several student bands.
The Antipodeans team manned a Krispy Kreme fundraiser stall where all proceeds will go towards community projects they will be undertaking in India for three weeks in December.
“It’s a great opportunity for the whole school community, staff and students to have a bit of fun, be encouraged after a full semester, for positive relationships to be continually established and to hit the second half of the year with a bit of fresh air,” Jayden said.
Thanks to a connection with the local church, YouthCARE chaplains Jono and Jocelyn Prosser have been able to help disadvantaged students in Katanning stay in school.
The pair have been able to use money set aside by the church to help needy students with basic supplies such as uniforms, stationery, medicine and food.
Jocelyn said the assistance has helped boost attendance.
“The new uniforms particularly have had a surprising effect on many of the students who have received them, with the Deputy at my school noticing a difference in attendance and sense of belonging for the students with new uniforms,” she said.
“Some students have never had the privilege of owning a nice new uniform. It has been amazing (and surprising to many staff) what a difference this small gift has made to both the students and to their parents. Some of the parents of the children who have received uniforms have been more responsive to the school staff and their efforts. It seems as if this gesture speaks to them to say that someone cares about them and their kids, and encourages them on to want to be better parents.”
The money has also been particularly useful for head lice treatments. When a child has head lice, they have to stay home until clear. Head lice treatments from the pharmacy can cost about $20 per child.
“So, when a family with many children has head lice, this often results in a long absence from school as the family are not able to afford the necessary treatment,” Jocelyn said.
“Now that we are able to provide head lice treatment to those who cannot afford it, the absence times of these students is drastically reduced to just one day. A great outcome for the student’s learning.”
Thanks to the efforts of Gosnells Uniting Church Op-Shop coordinator, Patricia Booker-Woods and her team of 30 volunteers, $5,000 has been raised for school chaplaincy.
The money was raised through sales in the shop, and Patricia believes it couldn’t go to a worthier cause.
“Chaplaincy is so important, something I believe in and has a direct impact on our local community,” she said.
The Op-Shop was started 15 years ago, and has had a huge impact on the local community.
“There is clearly a need in the community — we have a steady flow of customers and quite a few regulars,” Patricia said. “Often our shoppers end up becoming volunteers — all of whom do a fabulous job.”
If you’ve had a gift wrapped at Kingsway City Shopping Centre, chances are, you’ve met Diane Stephenson. Diane has volunteered with the Balga-Girrawheen YouthCARE Council for the last 25 years and helped start the present wrapping fundraiser 10 years ago.
“The shopping centre management invited us to set up a table, and they provided the wrapping paper,” Diane said. “I volunteer because I love it and I am so impressed with what the chaplains do — these people are just amazing.”
Volunteers and chaplains man the tables, and people often come and have a chat.
“We have our regulars who recognise us every year, and some come to share where they are at in life. Sometimes we have a coffee with them and listen to their story.”
There is no limit to the type of gift, or number of presents wrapped, with some people taking full advantage of the service.
“We’ve had everything from guitars to table tennis tables — even a kitten,” Diane said. “One time we had someone come with 47 gifts to be wrapped. They were generous with their donation though!”
Team Leader Katie Sargent and Field Officer Shelley Puddle travelled to the Great Southern town of Gnowangerup, to meet with the local YouthCARE Council and run a ‘Transition to Treasure Hunters’ day. They also celebrated the work of the CVE volunteers in the area.
Volunteer Paula Beeck said it was great to meet Shelley and Katie in person. “For us to be able to tell them where we are at and for them to help us understand where CVE is heading was just fantastic,” she said.
“It also helped us to see that, even though we are far away, we truly are part of a much bigger picture.”
Meanwhile, CVE Field Officer Jan East headed north to Moora, to meet the teams from Dalwallinu, Toodyay and Badgingarra. It was the first time the teams had met each other.
Jillian Nelson has been leading the CVE team at Badgingarra since 1984, and Mildred Heath at Toodyay since 1964.
“What is great, is that they have younger folks on their teams learning the ropes and carrying the baton of CVE in their schools,” Mrs East said. “These women are true heroes of YouthCARE.”
Kinross Primary School students have enthusiastically embraced the Treasure Hunters program this year, despite never having had Christian Values Education at the school.
It started with only one student signing up for the lunchtime program in the first week. However, volunteer Anna Dakiniewicz never lost hope.
“A week after we started, we received a phone call from the school informing us that nine children had signed up,” she said.
When volunteers arrived at the school to run the program, there were 19 students.
“The club started just before Easter, so we were able to tell all the children about the Easter event,” Mrs Dakiniewicz said.
There are now 25 children participating, with more waiting for parent permission. The program is already developing a positive reputation at the school.
“Many teachers come by and tell us they love what we are doing.”