New South Wales Family and Community Services has partnered with Creative Community Concepts in order to deliver ongoing opportunities for disadvantaged community members to develop skills and participate in sports and social activities.
One of their most successful projects has been the Footy for Fun days, where young children aged five years and under are invited to an NRL skills clinic and a game of mixed league tag.
The program works as a targeted, early-intervention service, according to Senior Project Officer Danielle Chapman.
“That’s having that really early engagement around learning really good, positive skills and working on co-ordination, physical health, social and emotional well-being,” Mrs Chapman said.
“We want to build kids so they can be school-ready.”
By intervening early and working with children from such a young age, the program is also able to open up avenues to working with parents more easily.
“It’s also a program that invites the parents and carers to come along and help participate, through that soft-entry, non-confronting process, it gives us a way of working with the parents and building their confidence and skills as well,” Mrs Chapman said.
“The outcomes that we really want to support and see is parental engagement with their children inside of school and outside and an increase in volunteering from parents,” Mrs Chapman said.
“So what we’re seeing is parents actually increasing their confidence, skill and ability so that they can then volunteer back into other sporting clubs, which in turn supports their kids in those sporting clubs,” Mrs Chapman said.
The benefits for parents have also extended beyond just building confidence and helping them with their children, however, as some volunteers who’ve contributed to the program have been able to use the opportunity to springboard into others.
“Through this particular program, a number of people have actually been employed in a casual capacity and then have actually developed their skills so well that they’ve transitioned on to other external areas of employment,” Mrs Chapman said.
One such volunteer is Brigette Fernando, who has parlayed her work volunteering with the Footy for Fun program in order to achieve her dream of coaching a junior League team.
“Brigette is a huge success story,” Mrs Chapman said.
“She’s a woman who had a few children in this program and started volunteering all the time, really connected with the staff and she’s then gone on to become a comittee member of a football club and she’s a coach of the women’s league tag team.”
“She’s even travelled to the Riverina area as a paid employee and she’s now transitioning into full time emplyoment in Dubbo.”
Over 100 of Wellington’s schoolchildren, teachers and parents came out to support the most recent day and participate in the obstacle courses, skills course and learning games.