24 April 2018

Thank you for helping transform River’s life

Posted in Chaplaincy

Thanks to your support, Mackay mum Tania and her three sons are putting their painful past behind them and looking towards a brighter future with the support of Mackay State High School chaplain, Phil Hall.

After escaping from domestic violence several years ago, Tania is particularly grateful for Chappy Phil’s support of her son, River, now in Year 8. River is autistic and has an intellectual impairment, which led to struggles at school.

“He’s just transformed my son’s life,” Tania said.

“River never used to leave my side for one minute and now he’s getting ready to go on a camp for four nights soon because Chappy Phil’s going. He’s so excited.

“He says, ‘I’m going now, mum. I’m fine, I’ve got a friend there now’. He’s made an amazing change to my son’s life.

“Chappy Phil is the kindest, gentlest, most caring person and I’m honoured he’s in my son’s life.

“We don’t have a lot of friends in Mackay but we do have Phil. Chappy Phil is there for us.”

River was last year just one of six students in his grade to be given an Honours award for good behaviour.

But Tania said River’s transformation goes beyond the social confidence he’s gained through his time with Chappy Phil.

“River had problems with food and I had to cook two meals every night, which was hard,” she said.

“But through the Breakfast Club, he’s eating omelettes and smoothies. He can’t wait to get to school to have Breakfast Club with Chappy Phil.

“He’s eating vegetables now and trying new foods. He’s come a long way.”

Chappy Phil, who was the first chaplain at Mackay State High School and will celebrate 19 years at the school in May, knows helping students helps their families.

“You’ve got to go the extra mile with young people. You’ve got to give them a chance and keep giving them another go.”

And go the extra mile he has – and the city of Mackay has taken notice.

He’s has been named one of the 50 most influential people in Mackay by the local newspaper. But ask the long-serving youth worker and former mechanic why he made the list and he just laughs.

“We influence people with toast – one piece at a time,” he joked, referring to the school breakfast club he’s been running with the school’s guidance officer for almost 11 years.

School chaplains are a positive influence in our local communities. Help keep their vital work going by visiting suqld.org.au/donate.

Jennifer Kerr

Media and Communications Administrator

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