“Of all the days to forget my shell, it had to be today”, are words Chappy Jules Neri almost never got to hear.
Moments earlier nine-year-old Jaziya attempted to jump off a school building to escape his struggles at home, ongoing anger problems and another trip to the principal’s office.
Thankfully, a quick-thinking teacher’s actions prevented the unthinkable from occurring that day.
Five years on Jaziya, now in Year 8, is a bright, cheerful young man who is optimistic about his future. It’s a fact that he and his mother Leanne say is largely due to his primary school chaplain.
“Jules has helped so much,” says Leanne. “As a single mum it means so much to hear Jaz talk about Jules the way he does and for him to have someone else he can feel comfortable talking to. I’m so grateful to have Jules in Jaziya’s life,” Leanne adds.
In August 2011, Jaziya was first referred to Chappy Jules after reports of some disturbing behaviour.
“I recall when I first met Jaz he was a really lovely boy. But he was extremely hard on himself. He felt he could never do anything right,” Jules says.
While battling anger issues and a difficult home situation, the then nine-year old was also self-harming.
According to a national survey released last year by the Australian Government Department of Health, one in ten Australian teens engage in self-harm. It is alarming that teens are doing this; it is staggering to learn that nine year olds are too.
Chappy Jules had begun working with Jaziya prior to his attempted jump. After learning more about his anger issues, she gave him a shell, which reminded him not to allow circumstances to overwhelm him.
“After he tried to jump that day he was taken to the principal’s office. I walked in, sat down next to him on the floor and said, ‘mate, what’s going on?’ He said in all innocence, ‘Jules, of all the days to forget my friggin shell, it had to be today’. It just broke my heart when he said that,” Chappy Jules recalls.
Five years later, Jaziya still has the shell safely tucked away in a box beside his bed.
Jules’ support helped improve Jaziya’s self-esteem and control his anger.
“I still get angry, but I’ve learned to not do anything wrong when I’m angry. So I don’t try to smash things anymore. When I had the shell in my pocket it reminded me to just walk away,” Jaziya says.
He has carried the lessons he learned from his primary school chaplain with him into high school, even though they were not in regular contact anymore … until recently.
“My mum’s friend brought us to church and so I went to the youth group. I went there with one of my friends and so I started going every Friday night.
“After a few weeks I went up to the stage where all the people are standing and I looked around and I saw Jules — I could see that big hair,” Jaziya recalls.
He was so excited to see his chaplain again. The family has since been in regular contact with Jules. Through this experience both Leanne and Jaziya believe in the vital role played by our school chaplains.
“They really help people who have a lot of issues in their life. I’m glad my teacher was there to stop me from jumping that day, but I think if Jules wasn’t there for me after that I would probably still be really angry now,” Jaziya says.
Chaplains across Queensland play an important role in the lives of children, young people and their families.
Through your support for School Chaplaincy our next generation can see hope for a brighter future. Thank you!