Sometimes You Win Sometimes You Learn

When students have selected the Y Challenge subject because they want to do volunteer work, it can be very deflating when they make a series of calls to organisations and are unsuccessful in getting a position. But as a very wise person once said, “sometimes you win and sometimes you learn”.

Through their recent Y Challenge experience, William Ruthven Secondary College students Enver Rabbito-Nolen and Olivia Totsis did learn, and their persistence was eventually rewarded with a placement at the Yappera Childcare Centre in Thornbury.

Yappera Childcare caters exclusively for Aboriginal children and the program is heavily influenced by Aboriginal culture with several parents running music, dance and other sessions.

“The kids love listening to the didgeridoo and they learn to clap along with tiny clapsticks,” explains centre supervisor Mary. Often the childcare workers drop in Aboriginal language words and the littlies pick up their cultural language as effortlessly as English.

Mary is thrilled when WRSC students Enver and Olivia arrive on Friday afternoons.

“We have a wide diversity of ages in the room, from a very young baby to older children and each needs different stimulation. It’s flat chat,” Mary explains.

The students help by setting up high chairs, wrangling the kids into their bibs, serving afternoon tea and generally lending a hand with the full range of childcare activities.

While there is no formal induction for the volunteering students, Mary and her staff are endlessly patient and are happy to show our students how things should be done.

Olivia has attended many sessions over two terms of the volunteering subject and she can readily see the link between this volunteer work and the career in psychology that she hopes to enter.

“In both jobs, it’s all about developing confidence in dealing with people from a range of backgrounds and ages,” Olivia explains.

For Enver, feeling comfortable was more difficult, but that said, Mary has seen a marked development in his ability to approach the children and engage them in conversation.

Little Maya, the ‘social butterfly’ of the room makes a beeline for him as soon as he arrives and seems perfectly happy to natter away with him as they build Lego. While Enver has no defined plans for his future, he is toying with the idea of entering a trade and possibly following his father into carpentry.

As their time at Yappera draws to a close, both Enver and Olivia can take pride in a successful volunteering placement and the knowledge that their work has been much valued by the staff and more importantly, by the children.

– Report by Lillian Leptos