Building relationships, growing leadership

Revive has previously reported on the relationship between All Saint’s Floreat Uniting Church and the people of Mowanjum, a remote Aboriginal community near Derby. Volunteers from the congregation have been running school holiday programs for the Mowanjum kids for several years now, in response to disturbing statistics on youth suicide in the area. The  program has had a positive effect in Mowanjum, and people from the Floreat congregation are also seeing effects among their own community.

While many of the young adults from the congregation don’t regularly attend church, they are eager to get into action and support the program. Lee-Anne Burnett, from All Saints Floreat Uniting Church, explained that many of the young adults from their congregation have been getting right into the school holiday program, some even taking friends with  them.

In these recent school holidays, Lee-Anne said that they have now started taking on leadership roles within the program organising activities such as a disco, pool outings, fishing,  flour bomb fights and healthy cooking classes.

“They did a brilliant job,” Lee-Anne said. We’re very excited that they’ve taken the responsibility, we’ve got some very talented people there.”

David Marshall has just returned from his fourth trip up to Mowanjum to help out with the program. He said that as well as the trip being a fun experience, it’s also a great way to  build relationships and to help kids achieve their potential.

“Everyone deserves an equal opportunity,” he said. “The kids up there don’t have the facilities to achieve what people can down in Perth.

“The kids are incredibly intelligent and have a lot to offer but they’re not given the credit and recognition they deserve. As a society we don’t really give Aboriginal people credit. We  tend to say they don’t do well in school testing so they must not be very smart,” David said. “There’s a lot more to being smart than reading and writing and maths.”

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