“Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable”.
If American author, David Augsburger, got that right, Currimundi Special School chaplain, Bec West, is helping her students feel loved by helping establish the school’s first school council.
Chappy Bec, a former teacher who spent time teaching in Thailand, said the students have wholeheartedly embraced their student council.
“The students feel like they have a voice. Even though not all their ideas are implemented, they still keep putting them forward and thoroughly enjoy their additional responsibilities – they have exceeded expectations,” Chappy Bec said.
“It’s amazing the impact that coming alongside these students has had – believing in and giving them an opportunity to give this a go.
“They already had the desire to persevere and the humility to ask for help along the way, and as a result there’s not much that has stood in their way.”
Student council chairperson, David, said he enjoyed being involved.
“It was a fun experience. I enjoyed doing the openings and closing of the meetings. I’ve learned to use a strong, clear voice,” David said.
Council spokesperson, Declan, agreed.
“It has been really interesting. I did lots of stuff. My job was to tell people what’s coming up. It was really amazing and I liked it,” Declan said.
Chappy Bec said the Student Council started with support from the Senior Sector Leader, who saw a need to give the students’ an opportunity to voice ideas and take on extra responsibilities, and Chappy Bec has been overseeing it among her other activities at the school.
“Mostly I support the students with friendship issues, difficult family situations, or when they are feeling anxious and need space, which is common. I’m simply a person they feel safe to go to and have some space to calm down,” she said.
“I have contact with particular families fairly regularly who either struggle due to financial or home circumstances, or who struggle with being a parent to a child with special needs and need that consistent person to check in with so they don’t feel alone.
“With staff, they often just chat to me about difficulties they are facing and that helps them to get a clear perspective.”
Chappy Bec is only there to help give her students a voice thanks to your generous support of chaplaincy. To keep chaplains like Bec in schools, please donate today suqld.org.au/donate
Photo: Chappy Bec, with students and council members Declan and Zakk.