Making a difference, togetherDoug Conway
At Trinity, there is a Co-curricular pursuit to appeal to every student. The Community Service Co-curricular, spearheaded by Senior School Teacher Ms Rosey Stewart, was made available to students in 2019 and it’s easy to see the impact their efforts have made in the time since.
Community service has long been a part of Trinity life in both formal and informal ways. When the current Community Service Co-curricular launched, it gave students a new opportunity to get involved in their local community and beyond.
Starting in Term 4 of 2019, around 30 students from Year 9 enrolled straight away and got stuck into the group’s first initiatives: visiting a local nursing home one afternoon a week to play cards, board games or have a chat with the residents, and making sandwiches for the Vinnies Food Truck once a week.
It won’t come as a surprise to learn that 2020 saw many of the group’s plans scrapped, with students no longer able to participate in either activity. However, the group was continuing to grow in number, despite these setbacks, so Ms Stewart needed to find alternatives for the students – and fast!
Now, going into 2023 the group has grown to nearly 80 students and they have many more opportunities to make an impact, including:
- Visiting the local nursing home to continue those activities they began in 2019, once it is safe to do so.
- Recommencing making sandwiches for the Vinnies Food Truck twice a week in the Trinity kitchens.
- Packing Snack Packs for the Vinnies Food Service, which are distributed to primary school children who do not have regular recess and lunch, as well as to adults at Vinnies Food Services’ discretion.
- A food drive for FoodBank NSW, particularly during the floods of early 2022 – students were able to sort and box half a tonne of donations to be delivered.
- Knitting squares for Wrap with Love, an organisation that provides 30,000 people with knitted blankets each year, across Australia and the world.
- A food and present Christmas drive for the Exodus Foundation in Ashfield (Term 4, 2022)
- Serving in the Vinnies Food Truck in the Sydney CBD one evening a month (Senior boys, 16 and over)
Ms Stewart says COVID-19 made the group resourceful, but serving others became challenging when face-to-face contact was limited, something that is still impacting them now. It’s also difficult to find opportunities that students are able to participate in, beyond age restrictions.
“Finding activities for students under 16 that they can perform outside of school hours or during lunch time is a challenge,” she says. “We can’t take the boys out of class and many potential activities run in the 9am to 4pm time frames, or require the participants to be 18 years and over.”
Knitting for Wrap with Love fits the bill, and students were fortunate enough to be taught to knit by some talented staff, including Ms Belinda Reid, Trinity’s Head of Human Resources.
“This Co-curricular is beneficial, as the boys learn new skills in a very relaxed and social setting. The fact that they are creating something for someone less fortunate than themselves, whilst challenging themselves, generates an obvious sense of pride, appreciation and an understanding of the work that goes into hand knitted items.”
For Ms Reid’s part, she has enjoyed having the opportunity to have conversations with students while teaching them a skill that is no longer widely shared.
“Many have commented about the talents their grandmothers and great grandmothers have when they’ve reflected on the fact that they successfully could knit whole garments whilst keeping the yarn on the needles!
“It was also interesting to reflect on the idea that, in general, girls are traditionally taught skills that develop dexterity in their fingers that the boys really struggle to do – learning to hold the needles in one hand was really tough for some. I’m looking forward to us eventually being able to put together a blanket!”
The group is supported by a number of staff throughout the School, including Mrs Cathy Yarad, who not only teaches the students to knit, but also facilitates the sandwich drop-off to Vinnies once a week, in her own time. Ms Sylvia Wong and Mr Arch Humphries are instrumental in keeping the students engaged and enjoying the activities.
Mr Jacob Saliba, Food Technology and Hospitality Teacher’s Assistant, has also been involved with the group, assisting as they put together the sandwiches for the Vinnies Food Truck, adding more variety into his day.
“I’m loving the opportunity to work with the students, not just in the educational setting but beyond, into the Co-curricular programme too,” Mr Saliba says. “It’s not just typical academic classes all the time.”
Having the chance to work in the kitchens is greatly appreciated by the students and Ms Stewart.
“I like that they get involved in making the sandwiches – they lose their lunchtimes and perform a task that might not be in their comfort zone,” she says. “They have to clean up and make sure the kitchen is clean and ready for the afternoon classes. They’ve actually got to put themselves out to do it.”
The group is continuing to grow, including students from Years 9 to12. The senior students often have Duke of Edinburgh or International Baccaluareate Diploma Programme (DP) Creativity, activity, service (CAS) goals.
“With the goals set for senior students as part of Duke of Edinburgh or IB Diploma, CAS is no bad thing as it drives them to fully participate,” Ms Stewart says. “Still, the vast majority are Year 9 students who have a wide variety of reasons to participate. It’s a great initiative for those students who – for whatever rhyme or reason – can’t find another Co-curricular that suits them.”
With plenty planned for the coming months, the group shows no signs of slowing down now.
Making an impact
- 80 students
- 8,000 sandwiches delivered to the Vinnies Food Truck in 2022.
- 500kg of donated goods to FoodBank NSW
- 40+ Knitted squares for Wrap with Love
- 20+ hours of community service per student in 2022