McKenzie met Chappy Aaron during a tough season. His life in Quilpie wasn’t in the best place, and there was no space for him to release his frustrations and pain.
When Chappy Aaron and some local church members started up a local youth group, McKenzie discovered a community where everybody’s welcome, and is listened to. You helped make this possible.
“There’s a lot of needs in schools in the outback. Family issues, learning difficulties and lack of entertainment, to name a few,” Chappy Aaron says.
“There was a gap that needed filling. Now with youth group, our young people have something to look forward to every fortnight.
“They share a meal, play games, explore questions about faith and have theme nights.”
Over the last year and a half, McKenzie has bloomed thanks largely to the support of Chappy Aaron. He was recently given the opportunity to stay a week on a neighboring farm as part of his work experience.
“Since I was a little kid, I always wanted to work on the land in the outback. Now that I’m 15, I’ve started working and love it,” McKenzie says.
His new-found positivity has helped McKenzie recognise that, even when things aren’t perfect, hope is never far away.
“I know that different people have different challenges. That’s why every school needs a chaplain, to help people who need it,” McKenzie says.
“For me, Chappy Aaron’s the best because he does everything for everyone. He’s the best person they’ve got.”
Chappy Aaron knows that walking alongside McKenzie is a journey he won’t ever take for granted.
“Being a Chappy has challenged me at times, but it’s so rewarding. I’ve seen McKenzie grow, learn, develop, make mistakes, then have to grow, learn and develop again – as all young men do,” Chappy Aaron recalls.
“He has had to work hard and step up and be brave. He’s had to say sorry, then carry on and get to where he is today without giving up. Journeying alongside him makes me proud to be called Chappy.”
McKenzie’s life has turned around since meeting his Chappy. The difference has been noticed by teachers, who’ve commented, “Chappy Aaron, what have you done to McKenzie? Why is he so well behaved? We have seen a significant change in him over this last year.”
Through the support of friends like you, school chaplains are helping young people discover a better future. If you’d like to sow hope into the lives of young people, head to suqld.org.au/donate