Youth from Kowanyama don’t have the option to complete secondary schooling in their community so they usually come out to boarding school in grade 7. Leaving family and a remote community to come to a mainstream boarding college can be a challenge in many ways. Connecting with and mentoring these youth can be an important part of guiding them through what is a difficult time for most anyway – made harder by being away from family and friends and being in a very different environment to what they are used to.
Our volunteers are mostly long term who have connections and relationships with their home community so this helps to make the youth feel comfortable and we can be there for them through difficult times at school – with the aim of keeping them engaged and avoiding them dropping out of school. Our activities range from weekend outings where they get to catch up with family and friends from Kowanyama who are at different boarding schools in the region, to helping with homework assignments, being there when they need a break from boarding, being someone to talk to, and helping them connect with services such as counselling etc.
All of these things are critical to stopping these great kids from falling through the cracks and helping them reach their potential under difficult circumstances.
Our Leadership development program started out as a school rewards program at a time (2006) when nothing like that existed and school attendance and effort was very poor. This program ran well for several years. Later we had cause to examine if this is the best way to continue, as there arose quite a few opportunities for kids to get out on trips dependant on their behaviour and attendance at school.
So we developed a different concept that we trialled in September 2009 and have been running ever since. This is a Leadership Camp that we run on the Atherton Tablelands that is specifically for Kowanyama kids. It is offered to grade 6 and 7 kids who are on their way to boarding school in the next year. The focus is on leadership, resilience and preparing for boarding school as well as building on what the kids have been learning at youth group and at school.
The camps have had a fantastic response. Many months later kids are constantly asking when it will be held again. Years later kids still talk about their good memories and what they learn on camp. Parents are even asking about it and commenting on how good they thought it was for their kids. Leaders who came on team who work with the kids in Kowanyama commented on how wonderful it was to see the kids in a different setting where they had a peaceful, relaxed environment to discuss issues, learn and have fun and show what great kids they can be!!
What is really exciting now is that many of our original camp attendees are now youth we mentor at boarding school and they come along as leaders which is now a focused part of our leadership development.
This program is not funded so we continue to raise funds for this and seek sponsorship for places. Please contact us via our contact page if you are able to assist or if you have any questions. Also please contact us if you are interested in being involved in running these camps.