Sometimes the impact of a school chaplain’s unconditional love and support reaches far beyond the playground.
With less than 1000 people calling the Central Queensland town of Biggenden home, and less than 150 school students, there wasn’t a lot for young people to do when the school bell rang.
Biggenden chaplain, Moira Thompson, knew she could help.
“Ten years ago, Biggenden’s young people had little to do after school and very few were volunteers in the community,” Chappy Moira says.
“In 2009 I introduced a bushwalking program into the school. These remote hikes involved cliff climbing, scaling fallen trees, rock hopping creeks, scrub bashing, camping in rain, on starry summits or in caves, and swimming in crystal clear rock pools hours away from civilisation.”
Chappy Moira’s program was so successful, she needed something more to help feed into her students’ new-found passion for adventure.
“In 2012, with the support of our local council and emergency services we set up an Emergency Services Cadet unit for young people aged 12 and up. We’ve had 20 young people in the unit since then, which equates to nearly half our high school,” Chappy Moira says.
Three cadets have won Australia Day awards for volunteering and ‘Chappy’, their Cadet Coordinator, is very proud of them.
But this admiration and respect is more than mutual, and shines a light on the impact a school chaplain has on the young people they work with.
Emergency Services Cadet Lucas McAskill, who finished school recently, said his future was bright because of chappy Moira’s influence through the program.
“Chappy has been a massive part in my life and has taught me about life. She has encouraged my quest for knowledge and most importantly has been a friend, a mentor and someone I will never forget,” Lucas says.
“Anything I succeed in, whilst pursuing my future, will be because of Chappy’s influence, encouragement and overwhelming support.”
For Moira, the work of chaplaincy doesn’t end at the school gate.
It’s about supporting young people to thrive in their school life and beyond.
“There is a ripple effect to what you do that can be seen in the mentoring given to cadets, providing them with opportunities to work with adults, and helping to reveal their generosity of heart,” she says.
“It can be seen in the development of trust and understanding, through engagement with the local community. And it can be seen in the opportunity to foster wonder and awe at creation, through the huge unexplored mountain range in Biggenden.
“Being Cadet Coordinator continues the work of chaplaincy, bringing hope to a young generation,” says Moira.
Your support for school chaplaincy continues to bless so many young lives throughout Queensland.
To keep this support going, visit suqld.org.au/donate.