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?

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.