24 April 2018

Warm-hearted chappy’s unlikely sidekicks

Posted in Chaplaincy

Terry Keen, like all school chaplains, has a passion for reaching young people in need.

The difference with Terry is… he does it with a roomful of reptiles.

Thanks to your support, Chappy Terry is helping at-risk children at Alexandra Hills State School overcome their personal battles and re-engage with school, with life, and with their families.

Now home to two blue-tongued lizards, two long necked freshwater turtles, and one bearded dragon, Terry’s Lizard Lounge has become a sanctuary for students at Alexandra Hills State School.

“The room is a safe place for children to come and deal with behaviour and anger management issues,” Terry explains.

“The soothing environment sets a presence of love, assurance and security, where all are cared for, including the troubled, at-risk and disengaged.”

More than just a room for ‘troubled youth’, the Lizard Lounge has become an essential resource for students struggling with separation anxiety, friendship and family issues, and more.

When school principal, Wayne Fletcher, first heard of the idea he was encouraged by Terry’s enthusiasm.

“What has amazed me is the power that these unassuming reptiles have on some of our most needy and demanding students,” Wayne reflects.

“Through the Lizard Lounge, students learn the importance of being responsible and dependable.

“They have the opportunity to think of someone other than themselves…to be there for something that is dependent on them.”

Wayne has taken to advertising this project as one of the top reasons parents should send their children to Alexandra Hills State School.

“I have seen the relationship between parents and children strengthen when a child is brought to school early to feed a lizard or turtle, and I have witnessed how caring for a lizard has assisted in developing fledgling friendships.”

Chappies like Terry are helping children and young people overcome their obstacles in traditional and creative ways in our schoolyards.

To keep this going, visit suqld.org.au/donate.

Samuel Moore

Digital Media and Communications Coordinator


  1. Hi Jennifer, I enjoyed reading about the Lizard Lounge. Perhaps other chappies may decide to bring (to school) their reptiles or budgies etc! Just wondering what ‘developing fledgling friendships’ means. Is it referring to underdeveloped/strained friendships between students or between students and the lizard? Thanks.

    1. Thanks for that great feedback, Andrea! We do know of two chappies who have a dog at school with them – one owns the dog (Tilly the Staffy on the Gold Coast), and the other is the ‘school therapy dog’ (Alfie, a cobberdog, in Brisbane) who just happens to live with the school administrator and spends some sessions with the chaplain.

      In regards to what “developing fledgling friendship” means, I think Chappy Terry was referring to students becoming friends who might not otherwise have become friends if not for the Lizard Lounge. I hope that helps!

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