Walking the extra mile

Walking the extra mile

How a principal and his wife are increasing school attendance in a small town

YouthCARE is always inspired by innovative stories shared through our extensive network of chaplains working across our state. One such story caught our attention this week, involving two of our favourite things: meeting the needs of children and dogs!

A school principal and his wife, who is a teacher in a small country town in Western Australia, have taken an innovative approach to combating truancy by improving attendance among disadvantaged students. Every morning, the couple take their dogs for a walk, stopping at the homes of students on the way to school to encourage those who due to social or economic reasons may not attend school regularly. This initiative has improved attendance rates and has had a positive impact on the children’s health and mindset.

Truancy is a significant issue worldwide, denying children vital learning opportunities that can affect their future prospects. In small country towns where resources are limited, resolving this issue effectively was challenging. However, the school principal and his wife have found a tangible approach that has worked wonders.

By taking their dogs for a morning walk, the couple engages with children and their families, building relationships and encouraging them to attend school regularly. The children are thrilled to join the couple and their dogs on the walk, and this enthusiasm has translated into improved attendance rates and school engagement.

The morning walk has also had a positive impact on the children’s health and resilience. Regular exercise and fresh air can improve mental health, cognitive function and academic performance. By walking to school each morning, the children are getting the exercise they need to start the day positively. They are also developing a positive mindset about school and education.

The initiative taken by the school principal and his wife is a fantastic example of how small changes can improve students’ lives. By taking a hands-on approach, the couple has built relationships with children and their families, making a significant impact on their tight-knit community. This approach to reducing truancy should be celebrated and could be easily replicated in other small school communities.

At YouthCARE, we love hearing stories like this school principal and his wife’s approach to combat truancy and improve attendance in their school. It is an inspiration to us all. Their morning walks have improved attendance rates and had a positive impact on the children’s health and mindset. Initiatives like these can make a significant difference in the lives of disadvantaged children, providing them with the tools they need to succeed in life.

The Power of Partnerships

Passing the Baton and supporting values

At YouthCARE we believe in the power of partnerships, especially in support of children in school communities. So we were thrilled to take part in the recent Passing The Baton Conference held right here in Perth. It’s an annual conference that focuses on inspiring and equipping people involved in Children’s Ministry.

As a program sponsor, YouthCARE was represented by our Christian Values Education (CVE) field officers who shared the value of theservices we perform in our school communities. During their time at the YouthCARE stand, they were able to engage participants with demonstrations and a personal introduction to our newly in-house developed CVE course, Everyday Matters.

CVE field officer Luke Frank said, “We love coming together for Passing The Baton and getting the opportunity to partner with so many great people who are also working to support the young people of Perth… Passing The Baton gave us the opportunity to discuss and encourage many like-minded Christians and Churches to get involved through YouthCARE to teach our Christian Values Education program in their local school.”

Our Christian Values Education program is specifically written to align with the Federal Government’s 9 Values for Australian Schooling and is a welcomed, valuable contribution to school communities across Western Australia. 

If you or your church would like to know more about partnering with YouthCARE to bring Christian Values Education to school in your community please contact Luke on 0447 118 873.

Support for supporters of wellbeing

Support for supporters of wellbeing

Sharing the knowledge, sharing the load and caring for each other

Chaplains face many difficult scenarios in their school communities on a daily basis, so our Chaplaincy Formation was a great opportunity to learn from each other and for our organisation to place an emphasis on the role self-care and pastoral supervision plays as we serve the community.

Every year YouthCARE Chaplains come together from across the state for our annual formation to connect, share and develop their skills before starting the next school year. This year we were visited by Stuart Adamson, Morling College Associate Dean of Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care. Stuart has a wealth of knowledge and experiences he was able to share with us all. He has served as a chaplain, chaplain trainer and pastoral supervisor at Anglicare Sydney for 15 years, with his primary ordained role in chaplaincy leadership at the Prince of Wales and Randwick Hospital Campuses.

In his role supporting patients and families in hospitals who would often be experiencing very difficult moments in life, he realised that self-care was going to play a very important role in the longevity of his career.

“When I first explored the potential of becoming a chaplain, I noticed that there seemed to be either 3 year chaplains or 33 year chaplains with no in-between…So pastoral supervision and self-care is so important,” said Stuart.

Pastoral supervision is an opportunity to explore and unpack personal and work-related issues in a pastoral environment that will help guide problem-solving, facilitate reflective practice and explore holistic self-care practices.

It is important to encourage self-care to not only chaplains but anyone in the wellbeing industry as it enables them to give the best support they can be to students, staff and families in their community. This practice is not only something we talk about without chaplains but strongly encourage and support.

The road to national recognition races through Moora

The road to national recognition races through Moora

Country Doctor Makes Australia Proud – a life of service rightfully recognised

Many great individuals dedicate their life to the service of others and YouthCARE is proud to have many people of such selfless spirit supporting our organisation. Recently one of these inspirational individuals was nationally recognised on the Australia Day Honours List for the incredible work they have done for their community.

It brings YouthCARE great honour to announce our very own, Chairman of the Central Midlands YouthCARE Council, Dr Bernard Chapman who was awarded an Order of Australia in the Governor General’s Honours List for services to health.

Graduating from university and marrying his wife Julie, Dr Chapman headed northwest to the wheatbelt town of Moora, where a career spanning more then 20 years would be ahead of him as the much-loved local GP.

Today Dr Chapman is one of YouthCARE’s greatest supporters. Having seen the need to support YouthCARE important role in his town, a role that had been in place since YouthCARE placed one of its first ever chaplains in Moora in the 1970’s, Mr Chapman made it his mission to raise much needed funds to assist our great work.

With the new Moora Hospital taking shape, Dr Chapman jumped at the idea to repurpose the old hospitals beds to create the annual “Moora Bed Race”. A fantastic event that this year has been declared the town’s event of the year by the Moora Shire, which raises significant funds to support the two local school chaplains.

Last year YouthCARE was pleased to be in attendance alongside our local area Chaplain Jon Spurgeon, to take part in the race which is enthusiastically supported by the township of Moora and featured the West Coast Eagles.

YouthCARE acknowledges this incredible event is just one testament to the impact Dr Chapman has had on his community. We join the town of Moora and surrounding areas in thanking Dr Chapman for the many years of service he has given to our organisation and the broader community at large.

Spreading the word (and the art) throughout the Midwest region

Spreading the word (and the art) throughout the Midwest region

The next chapter in celebrating Indigenous culture in schools

Seeing a project come alive and become real always brings a smile to the face of those involved. Earlier this year, we partnered with Westbooks in a commitment to the development of Indigenous libraries in schools across the state (you can read that story here) and now it’s smiles all round as our YouthCARE Chaplains get ready to distribute the first books.

The Burrup Rock Art books are being distributed throughout Midwest government schools covering areas such as Geraldton, Kalbarri, Northampton, Binnu, Mt Magnet and Dongara.

The rich photography and stunning images chronicled in this book by Mike Donaldson will inspire in current and future generations, a desire to learn more and cultivate an appreciation for Indigenous heritage while supporting local talent.

What matters most to students? Let’s start with acceptance

What matters most to students? Let’s start with acceptance

Delivering valuable treasure for young Treasure Hunters

Building up young students to help them navigate the world they live in is a task that requires many hands and willing hearts.  Treasure Hunters is a popular voluntary lunchtime program that schools can request we run for students with carer permissions, that focuses on Christian Values Education.

Trained local YouthCARE volunteers from the community run the 30-minute lunchtime sessions and recently we received a request from Illawarra Primary to run the program as they see tremendous value in it. We accepted and drew on our pool of qualified volunteers to guide the 30+ students through the “You Matter” module featuring a session on acceptance.

Acceptance matters every day, at every age and every stage

Illawarra Primary School, whose values include respect and acceptance of self, saw the Treasure Hunters program as incredibly valuable to their school. They understand that no matter who you are, values and values education are indeed an important part of the learning journey, and discussions on what it feels like to experience acceptance and identify ways they can demonstrate acceptance to others, prove helpful.

Our “Everyday Matters” curriculum offers many such modules and sessions, and if your school is interested in running our Christian Values Education program, we encourage you to contact us directly or learn more from the Values Education page of our website.

Everyday facts that matter

Everyday Matters offers a faith perspective on life and values, along with practical ideas and strategies to support students through their everyday challenges.

Aligning with the Nine Values for Australian Schooling, Everyday Matters addresses the Western Australian Curriculum General Capabilities – Personal and Social Capabilities and Ethical Understanding.

The Treasure Hunters program uses the Everyday Matters curriculum to incorporate a range of engaging activities that enable students to reflect on their own lives, their interactions with others, and their communities.

YouthCARE partners with local schools to teach Christian values consistent with the WA Department of Education Curriculum. It exists to help students develop interpersonal skills and a greater awareness of the world around them and is delivered by volunteers who are trained and resourced by YouthCARE.

Teacher appreciation day in words, music and giant Connect 4 battles

Teacher appreciation day in words, music and giant Connect 4 battles

Landsdale Primary School scores 98five out of 100 on the Free Coffee Friday fun scale

Teachers love coffee and kids love fun, and we love radio station 98five, the home of family friendly drive time chat with Kirste and Dan. YouthCARE Chaplain, Michelle Bispo helped bring it all together for Teacher Appreciation Day on 28 October with Free Coffee Friday.

The world over, teachers were being lauded for their dedication in guiding students along their education journey and at Lansdale Primary School, parents, staff and students celebrated with games, quizzes, prizes, activities and cheering… lots and LOTS of cheering. No doubt some of the that cheering was from the adults enjoying free coffee while watching the epic radio DJs versus YouthCARE staff table tennis battle but the real action happened during the on-air Q&As.

Michelle, along with students Amity and Peter performed beautifully, covering topics as far reaching as wellness programs, friendships, 4km runs for charity and of course, favourite teachers – controversial!

Dux versus Ducks

But it wasn’t just the students that were loud and live during Free Coffee Friday, one inquisitive duck was soon joined by his feathered friends leading Dan to gleefully declare that he was speaking with the dux of the school. Wrong ducks, Dan.

At the end of the day, the much appreciated teachers were the winners and their prize? A morning teaching students they knew beyond a doubt, that they were well and truly appreciated.

Margaret River Senior High School scores a perfect 10 for Big 10 day

School chaplain rides a wave of positive relationship-building and wellbeing

Fun activities for the whole school are a great way of building connections, confidence, resilience and social skills but they are notoriously difficult to piece together and coordinate. Nonetheless, it was achieved and Kathryn Seisun, school chaplain at Margaret River Senior High School in our state’s southwest, actively participated in the kaleidoscope of sports and fun including the coordination of the SmoothStar Surf Skateboarding activity. The school called it, “Big 10 Day” but it turns out that there were over 20 activities on offer. The questions is how did they manage to shoehorn so much fun into one day? Not easy – but not impossible either!

Around the sports world in 180 minutes

To say that there were a few sports and activities on offer would be to massively undersell the range of activities on offer. Students and teachers alike were invited to rotate through:

  • Sports related activity including basketball, volleyball, soccer
  • Games and gaming ranging from IT, boardgames and escape rooms to Uno
  • Adventure activities like trail walking, mountain biking and SmoothStar Surf Skateboarding
  • Self-expression sessions featuring karaoke, dance, art and crafts, origami and donut/biscuit making
  • Wellbeing through DIY self-care product making, women’s health and wellbeing and much more…

On top of that the colour and chaos of a crazy colour run rounded out the day of fun and connection.

5-time Paralympians first time at Big 10 Day

As if that wasn’t enough, the school Margaret River Senior High School extended an enthusiastic welcome to 5-time Paralympian, Brad Ness. Brad captained the Men’s Wheelchair Basketball team and spoke to groups on a wide range of topics including workplace safety, inclusivity and achieving goals.

If the goal was to provide students and teachers with an action-packed day to remember, Big 10 days gets a solid and heartfelt 10 out of 10!

Making a world of difference for Ukrainian refugees in the local community

Making a world of difference for Ukrainian refugees in the local community

How a YouthCARE Chaplain and a teacher created a practical welcome program

War and conflict can be very divisive but through tragedy some beautiful things can emerge, like communities coming together to encourage and support one another. The war in Ukraine has also seen displaced people searching for safety. Closer to home, Jody Rynski, a local YouthCARE Chaplain working at Nollamara Primary School, saw an opportunity to help.

Over recent months, Jody had noticed an influx of Ukrainian refugees to Nollamara and decided to offer practical help to support their integration into the community. Speaking with her sister, Jocelyn Bradshaw, who also happens to be a Primary School Teacher, they set about creating a 20-week program, teaching functional English to refugees.

The objectives of the program were clear, provide an opportunity to practice and explore English in a supportive environment enabling people to engage and connect with the broader community.

Many of these newcomers to the community have very little understanding of basic English so the program walks them through tasks such as grocery shopping, catching public transport, communicating with doctors and even how to contact emergency services in a crisis. The program includes time for coffee and conversation after each class, cooking and excursions to explore Kings Park, Fremantle, Elizabeth Quay and the Bell Tower.

“As we all work fulltime, we began on a Saturday morning.  Within 2 weeks we had around 25 volunteers join to assist with the morning tea and other activities/excursions, there are more joining and it is definitely a team effort from like-minded women,” said Jody.

Cooking class using functional English

In addition to the practical support and connection the program provides for refugees, volunteers have also been able to source furniture, clothes, toys, books, school supplies and assist with their housing.

Ukrainian families with children attending the primary school have also been invited to connect with the families at the program.

“My sister has been nominated for a Zonta Women Achievement Award for writing the English program and setting out the 20-week program… formulated around the learning of functional English and (an) introduction to Australian culture, building community links and building capacity to engage and participate in this new environment,” explains Jody.

There is more to a chaplain than meets the eye; their community connections and the networks they build enable them to make a world of difference each and every day in their community.

Kicking goals for RU OK day is a year-round sport

Kicking goals for RU OK day is a year-round sport

Checking in with Harrisdale SHS, AFLW West Coast Eagles and YouthCARE

Conversations are so important for building trust, support and connection between people throughout communities. RU OK Day is a great reminder to stop and take the time to check in on how the people around us are going.

Chaplains have many conversations as part of their day however they do so much more to support the wellbeing of the school community. Carly Arnold is one of the two YouthCARE Chaplains at Harrisdale Senior High School. This year for RU OK Day Carly organised a whole-school wellbeing event full of fun. This was the first whole school event to be organised around mental health as the school was only established 6 years ago.

West Coast Eagles AFLW player Aisling McCarthy graciously accepted the key note role, speaking at the year 9 assembly followed by a Q&A with the students. It was a great opportunity for the students to connect with a sporting hero and hear about Aisling’s journey. Aisling spoke about how she came to play the sport she loves and how injury affected her mental health along the way.

“As you can tell from my accent, I’m not actually from Australia. I’ve come all the way from Ireland to play this sport. So not being able to play and not being able to fulfill that dream because of injury was quite tough.

What I learnt was to have a balance away from sport and not have my identity fully engrossed in football. I am also a physio and have family and friends here, so I spent a lot of my time pouring my love onto them while working on that balance.”

Aisling McCarthy, Player for the AFLW West Coast Eagles

The speech encouraged students to look at how they cope with their own struggles and the support they can call on.

That wasn’t all though. Students enjoyed a meet and greet with Aisling during recess before the year 9’s got to test their skills against hers.

And that wasn’t all either! Students participated in skateboarding and basketball activities hosted by the City of Gosnells Youth Team, a fundraiser sausage sizzle, face painting with their peer support leaders and live music hosted by Ian Broadbent, also a YouthCARE Chaplain at the Harrisdale Senior High School.

No matter what time of the year it is, we encourage you to connect with the people in your community by asking ‘are you okay?’ That’s one of the ways everyone wins. Okay?