Awareness raising should be the main focus of service days

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Awareness raising has become the focus of Service Learning Days at Whitsunday Anglican School. This profile is from Term 1 2014 and was contributed by Matt Hodge, Service Learning Coordinator at Whitsunday Anglican School

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What was the need or challenge being addressed?

Many schools hold the traditional free dress day throughout the School year as a means of raising funds for charitable organisations. Our School was no different. As a Service Learning Coordinator, I receive at least five requests per week from various charities asking our School to support them via this means. The challenge arose that as a community we needed to move beyond free dress to creating days that focussed on raising and sharing awareness of our supported charities. The financial donations needed to take a back seat as the challenge of spreading awareness become the goal.

What was the response to the need?

The first step was to rebrand our days as ‘Service Learning Days.’ This immediately took the focus away from the free dress. We also started working with the various charities to gather the appropriate information to share with our entire School community. This information was shared in tutor groups and through our Chapel services. We added additional activities to the day which involved relationship building between the students and staff.

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What was the impact?

The impact was noticeable from the start. Having students talk more about the charity and the day’s activities was an important step in shifting the focus away from the free dress. A significant impact was that due to students being more aware of the charity our financial and in-kind donations increased. This impact was not intended but is always appreciated by the charities.

What were the greatest challenges?

There are a small number of challenges that we face with this initiative. The greatest would be coming up ideas that allowed for increased sub-school interaction. We have had some successes in this area however there is always room for fresh ideas. Having our older students interact with the younger students is a wonderful by-product of these days. Having constant success with this goal is important. Another challenge is ensuring that the charities that we support are appealing to our students. Our most successful days are when students feel that they can make a real tangible difference for the charity.

Experiri was a quarterly newsletter presenting stories of innovation in school ministry from Australia and beyond. Each edition provided two or three profiles of  innovative strategies that had been developed in response to challenges or emerging issues for chaplains or others in Anglican Schools, including Heads and Religious Educators. 

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