12 February 2016

Rotary partnership sheds light in a dark space

Posted in Chaplaincy / Supporter

You are 15 years old, and desperate for someone to talk to so you seek out the school chaplain.

Arriving at the chaplain’s room you walk in, the space is dimly lit. You are hit by the extreme heat of the room due to a lack of insulation. The space is shared by a host of other student support services, including the school police offer, nurse, indigenous support officer, and the youth support worker.

Unsurprisingly, only a handful of Bray Park State High’s 800 students ventured in.

However, thanks to the generous support of the Rotary Club of Pine Rivers Daybreak a growing number of students are now connecting with their school chaplain after a $20,000 room renovation.

Rotary Club member and The Coffee Club Strathpine franchisee, Craig Pratt, first approached SU QLD Field Development Manager, Sarah Chandler, in 2013 to ask her to speak to the Rotary Club about the work of chaplains and how they might support that.

With the support of both the chaplain and the school, Sarah put forward a proposal to Rotary to refurbish the room.

“I spoke from the heart and shared with them about how amazing it would be if they could support the school in this way. They consulted and came back and said, ‘we’d love to fund the project’,” Sarah explains.

The Rotary Club wanted to play an active role in providing support to their local community. Rather than simply signing a cheque for a good cause. They wanted the opportunity to see a project through to completion and Sarah’s proposal presented the perfect opportunity.

“If you’re working in a good environment, then you can perform better in your role. So that’s what we wanted to ensure. After all, if the chaplains and other support staff do their jobs well, it has positive repercussions for our community as a whole,” Craig says.

In 2014, just as the project was beginning to take shape, a new chaplain was appointed to the school, Kacie Ball, who was still operating out of the old room. Without a comfortable, inviting space for the students to visit, her effectiveness was limited.

“There were five of us in a small little space. Kids would rarely come up there,” Kacie explains.

Through ongoing collaboration with Craig, the Rotary Club, the school and other support staff, Kacie helped oversee the much-needed changes to the room.

“It now has an open, bright space in the centre. There’s air-conditioning. More kids are coming in every lunch break for support, playing games and making friends. Students feel like this is a safe, positive place where they can come and talk now,” she adds.

“I’ve had students come in that have faced serious issues. They may be struggling socially to build connections. Now they can come in at lunch time and have the space and the safe environment where they are learning how to build those connections and their self-esteem in the process.”

In addition to the vital support of the Rotary Club in renovating the room, Councillor Mick Gillam from the Moreton Bay Regional Council also donated $300 to install cupboards, while the school’s Student Council supplied furniture.

Partnerships like these are vital to the success of school chaplains.

We would love to partner with you. Please contact our Head of Partnerships, Justin Tye at justint2@suqld.org.au or phone 0428 793 953.


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