It’s a heart-breaking scene watching your child cling desperately to you on their first day of school.
For many children, this soon passes as you transition from being their safe harbour to their transportation provider.
But for some children, like Ruby from Brisbane’s western suburbs, the struggle lasts longer.
In fact, it was something that she struggled with through to Year 5.
Through the support of her school chaplain, Jocelyn Hayes (or Mrs Hayes as she’s known by the children), today Ruby is truly shining.
For someone who, until recently, struggled walking through the front gate every morning to now performing skits in front of the entire school on assembly, it’s a huge step.
It’s a transformation that proud mum, Annabelle, says is due in large part to the support and encouragement she received from her chaplain.
“Jocelyn was so helpful, meeting us at the gate every morning and helping Ruby feel comfortable. She was that friendly face that I think really helped Ruby through,” Annabelle says.
Chappy Jocelyn recalls meeting Ruby for the first time in Year 2.
“She had extreme anxiety, she was crying every morning. So we worked out many different strategies to get her to the classroom without struggles,” Jocelyn says.
After speaking with mum, Chappy Jocelyn invited Ruby to join a “You Can Do It” program, which she ran to help children overcome their social and emotional hurdles.
The change hasn’t been overnight, but for Ruby working with Chappy Jocelyn has made a huge difference.
“I’m a lot more confident now thanks to Mrs Hayes. I used to be very, very afraid of talking in front of people. I couldn’t go up to someone in a shop and ask for help. Now I can do skits in front of the whole entire school,” says Ruby.
Of course, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing, but having her chaplain to go to when she needs some help at school has been a great source of comfort to Ruby.
“I’m thankful that we have a chaplain that’s as good as Mrs Hayes. She helps a lot of people, even when people may not notice it. Without her, I think school would be a sad place,” say Ruby.
“In the state school system – and this is a great school – there are a lot of children and I think it’s really important to have that kind of assistance like a chaplain, especially for kids like Ruby, who really needed it at the time.
“My kids aren’t religious as such, but I feel that keeping our children learning lessons of kindness and caring and giving and all of those things, which chaplains teach, is vitally important to our future.”
You can help more children like Ruby shine by supporting our school chaplains. Visit suqld.org.au/donate.