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RYLA catapults Taylah onto huge learning curve

Attending a Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) program earlier this year has catapulted former Cire Community School student Taylah Minca onto a huge and positive learning curve.

Whilst still a student at the school,  sponsored Tayla to attend the challenging week-long camp which provides a unique opportunity for leadership skills development while having fun and connecting with others.
Since attending RYLA, 18-year-old Tayla has commenced a beauty therapy course at Victoria University. She has captured her Rotary experience in the following article.

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to win a scholarship provided by Wandin Rotary to go to RYLA.

While I was waiting for the bus to go to RYLA, I made friends with a girl who was also going to the camp. When we arrived at RYLA it was super intimidating. We walked through a human tunnel of arms created by the leaders and they were all super energetic. I really didn’t know what to expect at this stage.

At the start, there was lots of team building activities which seemed really silly at first. I won a paper scissors-rock-competition, which was one of the best parts of the experience and made me feel really welcome. While these games seemed silly at the start, by the end of the camp, they felt normal as there was no judgement from anyone. We felt so free, and you could express yourself without embarrassment.

I found the first day a bit hard and felt homesick. The leaders were very supportive and encouraged me to keep going. Alan (the camp leader) was particularly supportive and made a massive impact with his service style of leadership. I’ve never felt so much support before.

By the second day, I realised that I needed to take on board as much as I could from the experience. It was great to be off my phone, and always be present with the people around me.

Over the week, my team all became super close and learnt so much about each other and ourselves. I hadn’t realised I was an introvert; I am a lot more self-aware now.

At one point, I had to introduce someone to the whole group after only meeting him for five minutes. It was nerve-wracking, but I did ok. He had a lot of cool, interesting things to say and really engaged the audience.

On our final night, we had a lot of fun, and I felt like I was part of something bigger than myself. I learned a lot about mindfulness, gratitude and kindness, which has already had a big impact on how I live my life. I hope to take the lessons that I learned on this camp into the next part of my life. I cried, I laughed, and I learned so much about myself.

I would like to give a huge thanks to Wandin Rotary and Cire Community School for giving me the opportunity to have this experience.

Rotary Youth Leadership Awards

Cire welcomes closer partnership with Rotary

Cire Services and Rotary are strengthening their partnership and reach to help respond to the needs of local communities, particularly younger people.

The initiatives encompass Cire Community School, a recently launched Rotary District 9810 Books for Kids fundraising campaign, and support for Cire Training’s Learn Local (see post on this blog page).

Cire is one of the first two organisational members of Wandin Rotary which has helped foster a greater understanding between the organisations and how closely our values align.

Recently, Wandin Rotary approved scholarships of $1000 each to two students at Cire Community School; enabled a student to attend the Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA), a6-day residential program focusing on leadership, personal and professional development and service to the community; and is helping drive mock interview sessions to prepare students for applying for employment.

The scholarship recipients were overawed by the generosity of Rotary and the student about to attend the keenly anticipated leadership camp said it was an opportunity she would never have thought possible.
The mock interviews will commence in earnest in Term 3. The sessions will also enable students to discuss their strengths and relate them to experiences with past work or opportunities provided within the school.
Initial feedback provided by some of the students who participated in mock interviews included:

  • It wasn’t dry and boring
  • It was really good and life-like
  • It made me think about what I need to do to prepare for an interview
  • The print out of questions is good, I can use it to prepare for interviews.

At a broader level, Rotary District 9810, which extends from Port Philip Bay to the hills of the Yarra Ranges, has launched Books for Kids.

The new District Governor, Shia Smart, is driving the Rotary DG Family Project Books for Kids Campaign which aims to identify and fund primary schools that will benefit from being on the Books in Homes program.

Rotary District 9810 together with Books in Homes will provide books-of-choice to children in District 9810 experiencing disadvantaged and low socio-economic circumstances, to ensure crucial early literacy engagement and the development of reading skills needed for lifelong achievement.

Identified children will receive two personally labelled books-of-choice to own and keep in their own personally labelled book bag.  Selected schools will receive a Preview Pack of 48 books to keep.

The campaign to fund the purchase of books was launched on 1 July 2019.

The more money raised, the more children who can receive books.

The books are top quality and brand new, curated for the program by the Books in Homes Book Selection Committee, made up of authors, illustrators, educators, and parents!

If you’d like to read more or make a donation to this fantastic project please go to Rotary District 9810’s GiveNow campaign page.

Wheelchair basketball – wellbeing day

In conjunction with Victorian Youth Week 2019, Cire Community School organised a Wellbeing Day which featured a wheeltalk basketball workshop at Kilsyth Basketball Centre.

The workshop was a great opportunity for students to experience what it is like to be wheelchair-bound and gain a greater understanding and empathy for people with limited mobility. The day also helped highlight there is a way to overcome obstacles in our lives and be resilient through adversity.

Overall the experience was very empowering and developed a great sense of gratitude, empathy and wellbeing among students.

The following feedback from students demonstrates the benefit of the experience:

Asharnte. As part of Wellbeing Day we had a Wheelchair Basketball workshop at Kilsyth Basketball Centre with Gary. Gary suffered a workplace injury about 30 years ago when he fell from a height and landed badly on his back. A very sports-oriented person, Gary has a special bike where he lays down and usually goes for a 4-5 hour ride each day. Gary is in a wheelchair and still competes in many different sports which sets a good example to kids who don’t do sports when they are completely capable. Gary is a great role model to children and adults who have a disability.

Mahalia. We split up into teams of five so there were 10 players on the court. Each player was given a wheelchair and it only took me a few minutes to get the hang of using it. I found it easy, enjoyable and overall a worthwhile experience.

In a letter of thanks to Basketball Victoria/Disability sport Australia, Michaela said the following:

Overall wheelchair basketball was a fun and enjoyable experience. It was great to see students go out of their comfort zone and join in on an exhilarating team effort. It was refreshing to arrive onsite and just be able to practice using the wheelchairs with no 20-minute explanation. The only complaint I have is that it wasn’t long enough. The game was entertaining and I would go again.

Our facilitator had an interesting story to tell and helped make the experience all the more enjoyable on the court. He told us about how he became a paraplegic and gave us some cautionary advice about thinking about every action you take as you never know how you might wake up the next day. This really resonated with me.

I’d like to thank you for this experience and the opportunity to play basketball, in wheelchairs.

The wheeltalk experience was one of a number of thought-provoking wellbeing workshops at Cire Community School’s Wellbeing Festival. Students were able to choose workshops that would help them ‘grow’ and be stretched. The workshops were both informative and challenging.

The workshops were run by professionals and covered family conflict, managing ‘big feelings’, masculinity and femininity, managing anxiety and depression and legal content about the rights and responsibilities of adolescents. Students also were able to be part of a session on sleep, safety and respect, help seeking and coping skills. This session used a number of practical activities and examples to engage students in thinking through some of these important topics.

A big thank you to Eastern Access Children’s Health (EACH), Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault (ECASA), Eastern Legal, Anglicare, Inspiro and Eastern Domestic Violence Outreach Service(EDVOS) for their support with this event.

Students kick career pathway goals in new boots

Cire students washing buses

Cire students washing buses in their new boots

Workwear has again supported Cire Community School with a second donation of work boots for our students.

The company delivered a ‘truckload’ of new boots to the Mount Evelyn campus mid last year and has followed up with another delivery earlier this year.

Students have been hugely appreciative of the boots and Workwear’s ongoing generosity.

Having the OHS-compliant footwear means students can engage in more opportunities for hands-on learning activities for their Certificate 11 in Horticulture, and also structured work placements with local businesses including plumbers, landscapers and local nurseries.  Students also undertake projects at Yarra Valley ECOSS, an environmental and educational not-for-profit organisation committed to showcasing and encouraging best practice in sustainable solutions.

The boots are a real boost to the self-esteem and confidence of students, as well as providing them with appropriate footwear for invaluable work experience, according to Karen Swankie, who is responsible for Vocational Education Training (VET), and Student Pathways at Cire Community School.

One of the students, 14-year-old Shaun, was particularly appreciative and wanted to extend a massive

Workwear boots donation for the students at Cire Community School

The boots even made it on the cover of the Mail newspapers

thank you to Workwear.

‘The boots are great and really comfy. I have dropped a few things on my feet at ECOSS so the reinforced caps have saved my toes!’ said Shaun who now has a second pair of boots having outgrown the ones he received last year and almost worn them out.

Another super thankful student is Ollie, especially after a close encounter with a lawn mower which took a chunk out of his boot but not his foot.

‘I was so glad to have the Workwear boots,’ said 16-year old Ollie who is undertaking a school-based apprenticeship in Landscape Construction.

Meanwhile, fellow student, Ethan was also hugely appreciative because he can wear his boots to his plumbing VET course each week.

Cire Community School, with campuses at Yarra Junction and Mt Evelyn, is one of the core operations of Cire Services Inc, a non-for profit organisation, unique to the Yarra Ranges where it provides flexible learning opportunities to people of all ages across its vast catchment area.

Cire’s other core operations are:

  • Cire Training, our Registered Training Organisation (RTO), delivering accredited, pre-accredited short courses and VET
  • Cire Children’s Services which offers long day care including integrated kindergarten programs, occasional care, outside school hours care and playgroups
  • Cire Community Hubs offering a diverse range of programs and services in a welcoming and inclusive environment.

Cire operates across sites in Lilydale, Yarra Junction, Mount Evelyn and Chirnside Park, as well as through outreach.

Students graduate with Learner permits

Congratulations to some of our Cire Community School students who recently gained their Learner Driver permits.

It was a 100% success rate with the 12 students who completed the three-day Changing Gears driver education program attaining their Ls at the Mooroolbark Licence Testing Centre. Cire Community School was able to deliver the program at an affordable cost to students thanks to a grant of $1000 from the Shire of Yarra Ranges.

The following feedback from students highlights the value of the program which is run by instructor Linda Jane from Changing Gears:

“I got my Learners permit and it’s all because of the Changing Gears program.”

“Thanks, Linda, for being such a great teacher and helping us pass our test.”

“Linda was so patient with everyone. Even though there was a lot of distractions, we all learnt about the Road Law and how to be safe, and we passed.”

Linda Jane said the following statistics were a testimony to how important driver education is for young people:

More than 350 young drivers aged 18-25 have lost their lives in Victoria in the past 10 years – representing one in four, or a quarter of the road fatalities in the State over the decade. In 2016, 19% of drivers who lost their lives were aged between 18 and 25 years with this age group only representing about 10% of Victorian licence holders.

Of the 29 young drivers who lost their lives on our roads in 2016:

  • 76% were male
  • 55% were killed in regional Victoria (94% were killed on 100+ km roads)
  • 69% were killed in single-vehicle crashes
  • 63% were involved in crashes that occurred in high alcohol times
  • 55 people die and 1,245 are seriously injured each year in crashes with drivers under 25.

Linda Jane said inexperience, lifestyle factors, risk-taking and using older, less safe cars made young people for more vulnerable to crashes and injury.

Subject to funding to ensure the program is affordable for students, Cire Community School tries to offer Changing Gears on an annual basis.

Linda Jane delivers the program in a fun and interactive way of using learning activities such as:

  • videos
  • information that is explained so it makes sense and is easy to understand
  • easy to use workbook
  • lots of practice tests
  • easy to remember methods
  • student questions answered.

If you would like to know more about Cire Community School and the education programs they deliver click here.

Cire scoops two awards for Mount Evelyn garden

Cire’s Community Garden at Mount Evelyn has starred in the 2018 Victorian Schools Garden Awards (VSGA).

It topped its category for the most engaging school garden, awarded by Catholic Education Melbourne, as well as winning the secondary schools section for North Eastern – Regional.

The dual awards are a testimony to the hard work and creativeness of staff and students as well as highlighting the flexible and quality learning opportunities Cire provides people of all ages.

The VSGA recognises the importance and value of gardens and outdoor spaces in progressive modern education. Established by Paul Crowe OAM and the late Kevin Heinze in 1977, the program helps promote the joy of gardens and gardening to school-aged children.

‘VSGA is a great way for us to showcase the types of flexible learning opportunities that Cire provides people of all ages, including our students. We are very proud of our awards, particularly because they publicly acknowledge what we have accomplished and aspire to achieve in the future.’Said Anna-Louise Allen, Executive Manager Education and Training, Cire

Revitalised from a previously neglected community space, Cire’s garden at the Mount Evelyn is a well-organised hub of activity for hands-on learning and engagement for students from the school, Registered Training Organisation (RTO) and kindergarten. As part of our paddock-to-plate program, our VCAL students use the produce to create deliciously healthy meals in cooking class.Cire-Community-Garden Award

It is a constant work/creation-in-progress with the change of each season and the ongoing input from different waves of students who are constantly thinking of improvements/new initiatives.

In addition to the lush range of produce and the resident chickens, there is a focus on sustainability with a water tank and composting, as well the resourceful reuse and recycling of most of the materials used.

We have great plans for the future with a focus on creating a sanctuary for students to connect with nature, their health and wellbeing; a safe space for animals, and a green and productive area. The garden also facilitates greater connection with the wider community through the availability of surplus produce and volunteer assistance.

Recent achievements include:

  • Resource Smart School accreditation with Cire setting an ambitious goal to gain our first two stars including one for waste management. The Vasili's Garden MagazineVictorian Government initiative assists schools to embed sustainability in everything they do, encourages real-life sustainability learning and helps schools save money.
  • Our garden has been featured in the nationally-distributed Vasili’s Garden magazine which promotes healthy and sustainable lifestyles

If you would like further information on our Community Garden please call 1300 835 235.

Pictured: Award-winning Cire gardeners, from left, Hannah, Luke and Rohnan with
Maria Minto- Cahill from Catholic Education Melbourne.

Pictured: with Paul Crowe OAM, VSGA co-Founder and Patron, are award-winning Cire gardeners, from left, students Hannah, Rohnan, Luke and Cire trainer Jill Dowling and teacher Ebony Mackay.

 

New work boots by the truckload, almost

It was like Christmas at Cire’s Mount Evelyn campus on 3 August when a donation of a truckload, almost, of spanking new work boots arrived for horticulture students.

The Port Melbourne-based Workwear Group was behind the incredibly generous donation, with students eager to select their own from the 40 pair available. There were no second thoughts for one student who readily retired his dad’s boots.

Karen Swankie, Leading Teacher VCAL/VET and Student Pathways, and Workwear’s John Simon were delighted to see the expressions on the faces of students when they tried on their very own work boots. Some of the students readily went up to John to shake his hand in thanks.

‘It is an incredible donation because it is such a huge boost to the students and their futures,’ said Ms Swankie. ‘Having their own boots that comply with OHS requirements for personal protective equipment (PPE), helps open the doors for students to future employment and structured workplace opportunities, as well as work placements and experience, on-the-job training, and hands-on learning.’

Ms Swankie said the boots would give students greater confidence to enter the VET field and workforce and maximise the opportunities that are available.

The boots will benefit Cire students at all year levels and across varying programs including those in Vocational Education and Training (VET) Horticulture run in conjunction with Swinburne TAFE and the Hands-On Learning program at Yarra Valley ECOSS which focusses on sustainability.

Ms Swankie said the donation was particularly timely given that students will be involved in structured workplace learning later this term in areas such as building and construction, nurseries and mechanical roles.

If you would like to know more about community school click here or call 1300 835 235.

From Student to Employee

My name is Rebecca and I’m an employee and student at Cire Services.

I first started at Cire as a student in the Step Ahead Program at the Cerini Centre in Warburton 2013.

I became aware of the program through my family, as they had previously been students and staff members of the organisation. The program was suggested to me I didn’t enjoy the mainstream school I was attending and I was looking for another option in order to continue my education.

The Step Ahead Program was designed for early school leavers under the age of 16 to participate in literacy, numeracy, art, drug education, cooking and other life skills. The classes were held in the comfort of a small classroom with a small number of students. The difference was the hands-on and creative learning techniques; it was not just about completing worksheets and keeping up with homework.

In 2015 I moved to the new location in Yarra Junction to finish off the rest of my schooling. The Yarra Junction campus was so different compared to Warburton, it had nice buildings, gardens, and was super spacious, it had a different atmosphere, and tons more people.

I started year 10 at the Yarra Junction campus, but being in a new environment with new people made it hard for me to complete all my school work, and as a result, I had to repeat year 10 the following year.

By the time the next year came around I was much more settled in my environment and with all the people around me, so I was able to get all my work finished and could move up into year 11.

When people hear the term ‘community school’ they think of a school for drop-outs or really troubled children, but a community school is more than that, it’s a place where you can be yourself and build ever-lasting friendships. It’s a place where you’re not only getting an education; you’re getting life skills and building up your self-confidence. Coming to Cire Community School was definitely the right choice for me.

From student to employee

Anna-Louise Allen (Executive Manager – Education and Training) presenting Bec with flowers after her inspiring words about her educational journey

Last year I was offered an amazing opportunity to complete a Certificate III in Business Administration as a school-based trainee two days a week. A few months into my traineeship Cire offered me a further two days a week as a Customer Service Officer at the Yarra Junction office.
I now work between our two campuses four days a week, as well as also completing my VCAL Intermediate at the Community School one day a week. I even shared my experience at a graduation ceremony where I received some flowers for my presentation.

Thinking back to when I first became a student at Cire to where I am now is such a strange feeling, I never thought I would one day be working for the organisation and alongside the people who helped me through my schooling and through some of the most difficult times in my life.

Being part of the Cire organisation is such a rewarding feeling and I love being able to help out in our amazing community.

Cire has helped boost my confidence and change my whole outlook on the struggles of achieving an education and has shown me that no matter where we are in life, or the struggles we are facing, we can always achieve the goals we set and become someone greater than who we were yesterday.

Please call 1300 835 235 if you would like more information on Cire Community School or if you would like a tour of any of our campuses.

A leader in the making

What does it mean to have the skills to be a leader? Not everyone gets an opportunity to better themselves and prepare for what may lie ahead, but with the support and generosity of the Wandin Rotary, Hannah, a student from Cire Community School, was given this chance when she attended The Rotary Youth Seminar of 2017. This camp was designed to build leadership and communication skills in young people.

These are the words of Hannah.

I want to begin by mentioning that I consider my experience at RYLA leadership program to have been an invaluable catalyst and because of this, I feel an overwhelming amount of gratitude for my sponsorship from the Rotary Club of Wandin, and Cire Community School for giving me the opportunity.

The Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA) is an experience, which feels almost impossible to describe because it is like no other. It is a residential seminar, expanding over the course of 6 days. Participants ranged from 18-30, and the program offered a diverse networking experience, which caters to the specific needs of young adults within this age group.

For me, RYLA felt like one of the most pivotal points in my life thus far. I believe that the program had a life-changing effect on every participant. It offered us access to powerful life skills delivered by an incredible leadership team who worked effectively, creating an intellectual and emotionally stimulating program.

Through this program, I took on a refreshed perspective, an improved outlook and approach toward multiple different aspects of my life and the way in which I navigate it. I consider the experience to have been a recalibration. Various other participants that I have spoken with share the same view.

With the perfect circumstances, environment, stimuli and duration for positive self-regulation, I feel that RYLA meets the true needs of young people, necessary in this day and age. RYLA enabled me to truly understand by example and experience what it is to be a leader and the absolute importance of leadership and teamwork. These two things are required and performed every day in all of our interactions and communications whether that be relationships, study, work, being a member of society, or just a good human being.

RYLA provided evidence of success and fulfilment through truly inspiring guest speakers, which opened an environment where I felt inspired by peers, idea sharing, activities, tests of the comfort zone, reflection and results.

All of these things coupled with an incredible leadership team encouraged every participant to be true to themselves. They allowed us to enjoy a truly authentic and rewarding experience. RYLA is host to an honest, motivating and passionate atmosphere that was contagious. It was an inexplicably inspiring experience to observe myself and those around me growing and learning in such a profound way.

RYLA gave me the chance to learn about myself, and to learn about others, to assess my strengths and weaknesses, and to assess the strengths and weaknesses of others. It also gave me an understanding of how we can use this knowledge and power in diversity for compatible success in all of our teams and communities.

I feel grounded in myself and in my community; I know this sense will continue to grow as I further engage. By searching deeper into my passions, strengths, weaknesses and my awareness, I feel more confident in where I am best able to contribute, engage and strive in the great wide world. I have an improved method for goal setting and more areas to set goals, which will lead to more and more goals.

Personally, one of the most valued effects that my experience instilled, was an improved sense of self-regulation; which serves as an umbrella term for the majority of all I learned at RYLA.

During our introduction to the seminar, Program Director, Alan, said that we may find an aspect of the seminar ‘indescribable’. I remember a few days before the seminar finished,  realising that I considered that ‘indescribable’ aspect to be the profound sense of connectedness, like-mindedness among diversity, lust for knowledge and growth. The power of collective passion, enthusiasm, motivation, optimism and deep community among strangers felt like an almost tangible force.

Since returning from RYLA, I feel that my quality of life has improved. The response to the program from my fellow 2017 Rylarians has been that of the same opinion. I believe that this is thanks to, what I consider, the psychological artillery that comes with the RYLA package.

Lastly, I consider RYLA to be a catalyst for every participant. Thank you, Rotary Club of Wandin. Words couldn’t really suffice for depicting my gratitude, so I will demonstrate my thanks in the way in which I conduct my life, living positively within my community, living out the lessons that I have learned as a Rylarian.

If you would like to find out more information about Cire Community School or would like a tour contact 1300 835 235

 

Facing fears with new highs

Cire Community School – High Ropes Excursion

This semester various year 9 and VCAL students from Cire Community School have been participating in an outdoor education project. This project supports the Victorian Health and Physical Education curriculum and the Learning Outcomes for their Personal Development Skills strand.

Over the year our students have been engaging in various activities designed to challenge, empower, develop leadership and teamwork skills and also connect to nature.

Students had the opportunity to participate in a high ropes experience facilitated by John (Camp Manager – St John’s Ambulance Camp in Wesburn).

The high ropes course is conducted in a safe and controlled environment which is designed to challenge the students physically and mentally, take them out of their comfort zone and give them the opportunity to experience self- empowerment through personal risk taking. The course is also designed to allow students to practice in a team environment and to instil a sense of responsibility towards their peers.

Cire Community School high-ropes excursionOn the day of the excursion, the students were both equally excited and nervous. Not knowing for sure what to expect, the student expressed worries that their experience would be limited by factors such as, a fear of heights and some self-doubt. But to their credit, every student had the courage to rise above their fears, and have a go. All the students achieved their personal best and pushed themselves to finish the course, despite the challenges. For some of the students, this meant combatting their fear of heights by climbing to the height of the rope. For others, this meant stepping onto that rope and trusting in their classmates to keep them safe whilst they were belayed from the ground. For the students on the ground, it was an opportunity to demonstrated teamwork and leadership skills. It was wonderful to see the students working together and believing in themselves knowing that they completed these challenges.

“Every student stepped out of their comfort zone and was proud of their achievements at the end of the day. To see the smiles of pride on their faces and the sense of success, knowing they worked in a team, was a special moment to witness.” Willa Vale – Cire Community School Teacher

Cire Community School high-ropes excursionAt the end of the day, on the bus ride home, there was a feeling of exhilaration. The students although exhausted had a fantastic time. One of the highlights for me was seeing the students facing their fears and uncertainties head on. The students showed great teamwork and pride in what they accomplished. It is always amazing knowing, that when you feel that a task will be impossible, it only takes that first step, to be pushed beyond what you believe is the edge of your capabilities. This was a special event for not only the students but for us to be proud of.

We would like to thank John, from the St John’s Ambulance, for his ongoing humour, enthusiasm throughout the whole experience and for supporting all of our wonderful and courageous students.

These are just some of the empowering activities Cire Community School students partisipate in. If you would like to know more about our educational services click here or call 1300 835 235.