Students stride towards an inclusive community
Students at Wodonga Senior Secondary College are actively reaching out to students from multicultural backgrounds to create an inclusive school environment.
In 2014, two Year 11 students from Wodonga Senior Secondary College noticed their class mates from culturally diverse backgrounds were reluctant to mix with the wider student population. Given this, The Peer Support Program was born.
Starting as an after-school sports program, The Peer Support Program quickly developed to include outdoor adventures with YMCA Howmans Gap Alpine Centre.
The program has proved a catalyst for the teenagers to develop their social skills, form bonds with other students, improve their English and feel part of the local community.
Led by staff from YMCA Howmans Gap Alpine Centre, the group of 10 students spent two days hiking over the Bogong High Plains, carrying packs and sleeping in tents for an authentic camping experience.
The students come from migrant and refugee backgrounds from countries such as; Nepal, Kenya, the Philippines, The Congo and Uganda.
Corey Montagnat, 17, is a Peer Support Leader from Wodonga Senior Secondary College who attended the hike. He has been involved with the program for two years and is passionate about the benefits of creating an inclusive and welcoming school community.
“For some of the students on the program, it’s like they have come here with their eyes blindfolded. When they see that we’re helping them, they really love it because it’s like we’re taking off that blindfold”.
“When they bring their life that they had over there to here, it changes your life a little bit too. It’s great”.
He thinks that having outdoor experiences with YMCA Howmans Gap Alpine Centre is an essential for the success of the Peer Support Program.
“Everyone is out of their comfort zone and comes out of their shells. It’s really good”.
The hike with YMCA Howmans Gap Alpine Centre was the first time that many of the students had experienced camping in the Australian environment.
Beatrice Nyandamira, 17, came to Wodonga one month ago from Kenya. She believes that going on the hike was an important part of forming friendships in her new home.
“We get to socialise with different people from different places, so it’s an opportunity for us to get to know each other more”.
For more information on the hike visit: www.walktowelcome.com.au
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