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?

Celebrating Indigenous culture by supporting regional heritage

Celebrating Indigenous culture by supporting regional heritage

Westbooks and YouthCARE partnering to create Indigenous libraries

At YouthCARE we are thrilled to be partnering with Westbooks in providing students with an avenue to learn and connect with Indigenous culture through the Burrup Rock Art books.

Burrup Rock Art by Mike Donaldson will be distributed to schools across the state as Westbooks works towards building an Indigenous Library in every WA school. This initiative supports local WA talent and educates the younger generations about Indigenous heritage.

Over the next couple of months, our chaplains will be presenting 150 of the Burrup Rock Art books to our schools as a first step towards building Indigenous libraries. Along with Westbooks we believe it is important to celebrate, showcase and share Indigenous culture.

We look forward to hearing about the interest these books inspire in their school communities.

A growing community starts with a growing community

A growing community starts with a growing community

City Beach Chaplain plants the seeds of cooperation just in time for spring

While technology has made it easier than ever to conquer distance and connect with people online, it takes some effort and creativity to bring people together, face to face for fun and community. YouthCARE Chaplain Nicola Harvey recently created a Gardening Club at City Beach Primary School to build relationships between the students and the wider school community.

Residents neighbouring the school have welcomed the project with open arms, contributing to its success by dropping off pots and compost to the school for students to use.

“Through the Gardening Club Nikki has fostered a great space for students, parents, staff and neighbours to build healthy, collaborative relationships,” says Area Chaplain Natasha Reynolds.

So far, the project has taught students the importance of healthy eating and cooperation as they work together to grow a thriving garden. More importantly, they are demonstrating the value of giving back to the community, literally sharing the fruits (and vegetables) of their labour.

So, amid the blooming spring flowers, the sound of birds chirping and the gentle hum of conversations in the garden, the students at City Beach spend some of their mornings growing and produce and community in the newly created Garden Club.

For more gardening tips and how to bring a school community together, keep an eye on our growing news page.

Two Pauls, one aeroplane, wonderful dedication to support services

YouthCARE Chaplaincy spreads its wings across remote communities

There’s nothing like spending time with people face-to-face and having real conversations about their situations, opportunities and challenges. To say that Paul White and Paul Marais go the extra mile to make that happen across Western Australia’s northwest, would be an enormous understatement.

Spanning enormous distances, the two Paul’s regularly visit schools connected to the Kimberley School of the Air, in Derby. School community destinations that benefit from chaplaincy support include One Arm Point, Koorabye, Looma, Yakanarra, Djugerari, Wananami, Ngalapita, Bayulu and Muludja. These schools have been visited weekly throughout the term.

Regularly taking to the skies to reach communities hundreds of kilometres apart is possible thanks to the ongoing support of Kingdom Aviation and the Department of Education.

Airtime, gifts and great relationships – it’s all in a day’s work.

To get an idea of “a day in the life”, here’s what Paul White had to say about his recent experiences:

I recently completed my first cattle station and indigenous community run for 2022. It’s always a real pleasure meeting up with families and children on the stations and communities. My wife Laurel makes little gift packages for the children including practical items such as seeds for gardens, games and toys, plus a bag of fresh fruit that is always well received. Once I’m picked up from the airstrip I normally join in with the kids, tutors or parents for the day, helping out where I can, encouraging them and trying to build good long-term relationships.

We cover many kilometres to carry out this pastoral support. It takes 2 hours of flying to get to Kandiwell Community, located near Mitchell Falls, then Sandfire Roadhouse is another 2hr flight from Derby. Drysdale River Station is also just under 2 hours of flying and it takes two and half hours to get to Ellenbrae Station. Then after spending the day with the various families, I’m back in the plane, flying back to Derby. Most days I prep the plane early and take off at first light, normally home by 3 or 4 in the afternoon, most days turn into a 10-to-12-hour day.

Here at YouthCARE, we are grateful for the positive impacts all our people have on the well-being of school communities throughout WA and we appreciate the time, effort and in this case, air travel it takes to demonstrate our values of respect, compassion and service – statewide.

Keep an eye out for more updates from around the state.

YouthCARE assists young students reach for their sporting stars

Our chaplain got the ball rolling to connect Perth Wildcats with the stars of tomorrow

So many kids dream of playing for their favourite teams in the big leagues and they are often inspired by a chance meeting with a star on the national or international sporting stage. This term, Southwell Primary School welcomed a very special visit from Perth Wildcats big man, Majok Majok thanks to the school’s YouthCARE Chaplain, Lisa Olislaegers.

Looking to encourage, motivate and inspire the students, Lisa reached out to the Wildcats with a request to bring a little b-ball magic to the school. The kids, some of whom have some pretty big sporting ambitions, were greeted by an even bigger treat when the almost 7-foot tall centre arrived, ready to share some tips, skills and shoot some hoop.

“There are a few students at the school who play basketball quite seriously and hope to go pro one day,” said Lisa.

 With a total of 80 students, Lisa got the whole school involved ensuring that everyone got to share in the excitement.

Just like us, the Perth Wildcats know the value of actively connecting with and supporting the community and on this occasion, it was YouthCARE providing the assist – and everyone wins!

To explore opportunities to get the most successful National Basketball League team in history involved with your school, you can contact Katie Reed at katie@wildcats.com.au. The kids will have a ball!