Growing Connections at Perenjori Primary School

Growing Connections at Perenjori Primary School

Two hours south-east of Geraldton lies a town called Perenjori where YouthCARE chaplain Robin has started in her role in the local primary school.

Looking for a way to get to know the students, Robin planted some vegetables with some of the students around the school grounds.

“The school already had some garden beds that weren’t in use, and I had seedlings and seeds from my home garden that I could bring in! A few community members also donated seedlings for me to use!” said Robin.

“I mentioned to some of the students about the garden and if they would like to help. At recess and lunch, the students saw what I was doing and came and helped with the planting and watering. Now the students check and water even on the days I’m not at school!” said Robin.

The gardens have created a conversation starter for Robin to chat with the students in a casual setting. She has a place to bring students who might need some downtime and distraction from what is going on in their lives.

“This year we grew peas, spinach, kale, turnips, lettuce, and a cherry tomato. The students pick the peas and eat them fresh.

“The turnips were made into turnip soup which we made in the K/PP class along with damper. Their class had a theme for the week from the book “The Gigantic Turnip” It was so much fun to cook with the kids and talk around the table with them as we prepared and enjoyed the soup.”

As the garden has been so successful, the P&C has purchased three more garden beds, tools, and equipment for Robin to use and set up with the student’s next term.

Chaplain connecting the dots at Pannawonica Primary School

Chaplain connecting the dots at Pannawonica Primary School

Anne has been a chaplain at Pannawonica Primary School for just one year but in that time has had an incredible impact on the lives of students, staff, and parents in the community.

One of the first things Anne decided to do in the school was a resilience dot mural as part of her introduction to the school and making connections with students.

“I based the activity on the Peter Reynolds storybook, “the Dot”, which tells the story of a girl who begins a journey of self-discovery after a caring teacher challenges her to make her mark.

Chaplain Anne reading The Dot to students

“I leveraged the concept to encourage students to be brave enough to make their mark when facing challenges academically, socially, physically or culturally,” said Anne.

Each student and staff member decorated a dot which Anne then turned into a school mural.

“All students and staff made their dot, creating a whole-school dot mural that represents our school’s OHANA family culture, where nobody is left behind or forgotten… and where everybody has the opportunity to make their mark,” said Anne.

Teacher and student completing their “dots”

The mural is now hung in the school as a constant reminder that everyone is valued.

The mural helped Anne establish relationships within the school and she still has students approach her and refer back to the lesson they learned and the story she told.

Chaplain Anne and CEO Stanley at the dot mural

Chaplaincy across the state, Natasha has seen it all!

Chaplaincy across the state, Natasha has seen it all!

Natasha has been a YouthCARE chaplain since 2011 and in that time has been in a remote school in the Kimberley, down to her new role in Dalyellup and a few schools in between!

“I started in Geraldton in a Junior High school called John Willcock College, then went to two primary schools in Perth (Girrawheen and Bayswater), then we relocated up to Halls Creek for three years where I was the first-ever chaplain at Halls Creek District High School and had my first baby! Now I’m down here at Dalyellup College with my family,” said Natasha.

Natasha loves being a school chaplain and has seen first-hand the positive impact YouthCARE chaplains have in school communities.

“I believe greatly in the work of YouthCARE and chaplaincy. My social conscience has grown, especially after living in Halls Creek, and I have a strong conviction to serve our communities. It’s honestly one of the most rewarding roles! ” she said.

“I love that every day is different. I love that the impact and reach goes beyond the students to teachers, staff and parents, and I really love that I have a daily opportunity to meet the needs of these students.

“Every day I think, “How can I help you?” With breakfast? Lunch? A listening ear? A fun handshake in the foyer? Big or small, I get to share some love every day. I also love that I get to be a trusted adult to many students who don’t have a safe adult to talk to, bounce ideas off, share worries with, or be positively influenced by!” she said.

Natasha and her husband have travelled all over WA and even the world! They’ve seen first-hand how different communities and demographics live and has seen how important chaplaincy is in both metropolitan and remote locations.

“Chaplaincy is so important. Chaplaincy brings support, joy, light into a school. Chaplains feed, facilitate incredible programs for the well-being and mental health of students and refer countless students to the right external agencies for whole family support.

“Chaplaincy has required me to be adaptive and change things up depending on the needs of the school as well as providing consistency and continual service to the whole school community,” said Natasha. 

Care Bags at Subiaco Primary School

Care Bags at Subiaco Primary School

For the second year in a row, students at Subiaco Primary School have participated in Care Bags; a statewide initiative providing support to children going into foster care for the first time.

YouthCARE chaplain Jamie oversees the program with the help of the Social Justice Group.

“Our Social Justice Group is made up of around 50 students from years 5 and 6 who organise fundraising each term for various organisations,” said Jamie.

Last term, the school held a ‘Silver Coin Challenge’. The challenge involved each class filling a jar with as many silver coins as they could and the winners receiving handmade pizza from chaplain Jamie!

“Through the Silver Coin Challenge, we were able to raise $1,500 for the Care Bags program. I was then able to buy supplies for the bags and the Social Justice Group helped pack them.

“The backpacks are filled with two sets of clothes, socks and underwear, pajamas, toiletries, and a toy. This year we were able to make over 25 bags which are then given to the Department of Child Protection who distribute them to children going in foster care,” said Jamie.

Oz Harvest Hampers at Bambara Primary School

Oz Harvest Hampers at Bambara Primary School

Every Tuesday at Bambara Primary School in Padbury, YouthCARE chaplain Sylvia receives donated goods from Woolworths and Aldi through Oz Harvest.

“Once the food is delivered, we make up hampers for families in tough financial circumstances. All hampers have a variety of foods, depending on what is available, varying with dairy, fresh produce and frozen meals,” said Sylvia.

Recipient families are chosen each week by the Principal Linda and they are very appreciative of the support from the school.

“We have one single parent with four children at the school who was very grateful for the hamper. Since receiving her own, she now helps us identify more families in need in the school and even helps us deliver hampers in the community!” said Sylvia.

“Every week I receive heartfelt thank you’s from families. Oz Harvest have been a blessing to so many families.

“I feel so blessed to be a part of the giving, it has made me more aware of the hardships so many were facing, financially and emotionally,” said Sylvia.

Legacy Builders

Legacy Builders

YouthCARE chaplain Kim designed a club called Legacy Builders at East Kimberley College. The club encourages students in years 9 and 10 to consider the idea of what they will leave behind at the school.

As the college is kindergarten to year 12 the club gives high school students the ideal opportunity to be able to connect and build relationships with primary aged students and equip them for high school.

” In Term 1 the Legacy Builders chose to focus on year one and we spent the term running games for year one students, where the high school students would introduce the activity explain the rules and then play it with the year one students,” said Kim.

” In term 2 the group chose pre-primary and visited classes where we designed and ran games and activities around the fairytale theme which the classes were working through each week. Each week the high school students would work with a small group of pre-primary students, learning their names and developing relationships.

“Now when the pre-primary and year 1 students see the high schoolers around school or in the community they say hello, call out to them and are really proud to know a “big kid”,” said Kim.

The high school college students have enjoyed taking on new responsibilities and learning public speaking skills and team building.

“Our aim is that the legacy we leave behind for the younger students will be the fun times when high school students took the time to come and get to the know the younger students,” said Kim.

Long term, the aim is for these primary students to become Legacy Builders themselves once entering high school; Creating an on-going positive school community.

BUZ at Halls Creek District High School

BUZ at Halls Creek District High School

YouthCARE chaplain Jerome has been running the BUZ program at Halls Creek District High School and seeing a positive impact between students at the school.

BUZ (Build Up Zone) is an initiative run in schools that develop life skills in students through activities addressing conflict resolution, protective behaviours, self-esteem, peer relationships, and much more.

“We run the sessions in six different primary classes! We began the term by discussing strengths and what things make us strong on the inside like being kind, patient, sharing etc.” said Jerome

Jerome has seen huge changes in in-class interactions with students and has had positive feedback from staff and parents on the impact it is having with individual students.

“An Education Assistant from a class where we do BUZ came to me and said how a student had approached a new student unprompted and introduced themselves. This student is aways friendly but wouldn’t usually have the accompanying language tools (before doing BUZ) to support it,” said Jerome.

Classes are currently learning about emotions and what to do when they have “big feelings”. Through using the “Bear Feeling Cards” (pictured) students sort out what feelings match different emotions and how to act for each type.

Lego League at East Kimberley College

In 2018 YouthCARE chaplain Kim started the Lego League Club at East Kimberley College.

"We had a new student who was grieving the loss of their dad and had just moved to our school. They had competed in the Lego League at their previous school so I wanted to start up the club to support them," said Kim.

Kim got together with the schools' Digital Technologies teacher to start the club. The Lego Leauge is a STEM based program that consists of programming Lego Mindstorm robots to complete challenges, research projects where students are asked to solve real-world problems, and Core Values challenges where students are challenged to build social skills with their team.

In 2018 a team of six students travelled to the Northern Territory to compete in a regional tournament which they won, putting them through to the finals in Sydney. The following year, the team grew to 11 students where they also placed in the finals in Sydney.

"This year we have 13 students who meet regularly each week to prepare for the regional tournament. We go through problem-solving, programming, and engineering skills," said Kim.

"I love that through this program offers so much, our students have become more connected to each other, more confident in public speaking, and have become great problem solvers. The bonus has been that we have had these great opportunities to take students from a small town in the Kimberley to experience a big city like Sydney and mix with like-minded students from all over Australia, they will never forget these experiences," said Kim.

Food Hampers helping families in time of need

When Nathan, the YouthCARE chaplain at Ardross and Kardinya Primary School's, heard more and more stories of families doing it tough during the Covid-19 pandemic, he knew he had to step in and do something.

He put a call out to local churches, asking if they had food resources to donate, hoping to make up a few food hampers for families in his school.
He was inundated with frozen meals, non-perishable foods and toilet rolls!

Working with some other YouthCARE chaplains, they set to work creating food hampers. 

Chaplain Nathan dropping off hampers to a local school!

"Some families were very stretched by the time we delivered hampers, so they were very relieved and thankful for the support! I can't imagine what it would be like to have nothing in the pantry or the wallet and have a house full of hungry people!" said Nathan.

They were able to help over four school communities with hampers and even have local churches now providing long term support to local families.