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Connecting Generations

Since July the kindergarten children from Cire have been lucky enough to visit the Estia Health Aged Care Facility. As part of their experience, the children got to complete different activities to engage with the residents. They have painted artwork for the art show, played games, completed puzzles, been hands-on making threaded necklaces, worked together on craft activities, they sang songs, played musical instruments and had a chat. The residents even got to show off their favourite songs and share their memories with the children. Guiding the children through their past times and experiences was a highlight for them with the children eager to learn more.

On one of the excursions to Estia some of the children had made cards for their newly found friends, it was on this day that one of them was having a very special birthday, Elsbeth was turning 94. The children were able to celebrate with her and her friends by singing happy birthday and joining in on the fun. It was a joy to see Elsbeth have so many little friends celebrate her big day.

It’s wonderful to observe the two groups of people becoming more comfortable and open with each other, learning to communicate in different ways. There was even an animal resident that was a big hit with the children, a fat cat called Elle. She meandered her way through the centre collecting hugs and pats as she went. The children learnt that Elle the cat’s role was to make the residents feel calm and make Estia feel like home.

The interactions that have occurred have been simple and easy going, there has been some small talk, discussions of how to play games and what each other enjoys doing; some even mentioning what they had liked when ‘they’ were in kindergarten. One of the residents told me,

“It was so lovely seeing the children when they visited, they bring life back into my heart and I smile so much when they are here”. Resident of Estia Health Aged Care Facility

Through this exchange, the children have had the opportunity to connect, develop and experience what it means to have respect and to care for people of all ages and abilities.

We look forward to further developing our relationships and are excited to be working towards a fun Christmas concert for our new friends, with the possibility for them to attend our end of year graduation ceremony.

Thank you so much to the Estia Health Aged Care Facility for the having our children come and visit.

If you would like to find out more about our Cire Children’s Services kindergarten program or would like to come to the centre for a tour contact 1300 835 235.

 

Back to Grass Roots Community Support

Exciting times ahead for the Upper Yarra region with the re-introduction of grass roots community engagement at Cire Services. In the coming months, Cire Services will be focussing on a new community house structure that aims to bring people together to connect, learn and contribute in their local areas. We will be providing locals with the opportunity to identify and address their own needs, to do something for themselves in order to develop and grow their own personal skill set and wellbeing. We welcome people from all walks of life and provide an approach that opens up opportunities for individuals to broaden and enrich their own experiences, in turn enriching their community.

Cire Community House will operate from the Yarra Junction office using a unique community development approach in order to engage, connect and develop community members. We aim to provide a safe learning and social environment where community members feel they belong, can meet new people and learn something enriching and new along the way. We will be a hub of fun activities that not only provide locals with an outlet to channel their passions, but a space where valuable life skills can also be learnt.

In order to develop a strong community offering, we want to provide exactly what the community wants and needs. So to kick off Cire’s new Community House we are seeking input from our local communities in the Upper Yarra to assist in developing ideas that will strengthen our community and lead to diverse and innovative outcomes.

Some of the activities and services recently developed in response to your needs are; community lunch, community events, health and wellbeing, numeracy and literacy, digital literacy, leisure and life style activities. Have you got any more ideas of what you’d like to see us deliver?

We invite you to join our first community lunch on Wednesday 3rd May; 12.30 to 2.30 pm at Upper Yarra Family Centre, 2444 Warburton Highway Yarra Junction. Bring with you your appetite and ideas to share. Please call 5967 1776 to book your seat click here Hoping to see you there

 

 

 

SWEY Partnership – Community consultation on education

How can we make it easy as possible for people in the Yarra Valley to get the skills they need to fill local jobs? SWEY wants to know!

SWEY (Seville, Woori Yallock, Mt Evelyn and Yarra Junction) is a partnership between Cire Services and Seville and Woori Community Houses.  With support from the Adult, Community and Further Education (ACFE) Board, we are gathering evidence about the state of employment education in our local area and how we can support more people to get the skills they need to work locally.  This means connecting with businesses to learn what their needs are and connecting with community members to determine how to make training as easy to access as possible.

SWEY is a two-part consultation.  Firstly, we want to gain information from community members (“learners”) about what barriers they face when considering a training program and how we can make it easier for people to get the skills they need close to home.  Secondly, we want to connect with businesses (“employers”) in the Warburton Highway corridor and beyond to determine what skills they most value and what types of training we can offer that will best serve their needs.

“The Yarra Valley region is a vibrant community with diverse business interests and a lot to offer, but we suffer from a lack of public transportation and we are far from major training centres in the city,” explains Erica German, the SWEY Project Manager, “Cire already offers the most accessible training in the region and by partnering with Seville and Woori Community Houses we are making sure that it is as easy as possible for local people to gain the skills that they need to get meaningful employment in the area.”

If you live, train, or work in the region, we want to hear from you!   What training programs would you like to see offered locally?  What can we do to make it easier for people to attend?  What supports can we put in place to make sure people succeed in their training programs?  Get in touch on our website, www.swey.org.au   where you can gain more information or fill in our short survey.  You can also find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sweypartnership

Check out the programs offered by our other SWEY partners on their websites:

Sevillecommhouse.org.au
Wooricommhouse.org.au

Help Little Feet Take Big Steps

Cire Services is launching a new approach to help support our community programs. Our first initiative is Gumboots Supported Playgroup.

Launching Tuesday 25th October, Cire Services will conduct fundraising and donation activities to contribute to the longevity of our community programs. Our new Support Cire page enables people and organisations to make financial donations and receive an invoice for tax purposes. Our first campaign supports the Gumboots Supported Playgroup. Cire campaigns will be developed to further enhance our educational and support services.

Gumboots Supported Playgroup is run by Cire Services in Yarra Junction and is a free, relaxed, quality playgroup where children learn through play. The program supports children’s development and learning; is facilitated by a qualified early childhood educator and helps improve educational outcomes for all children. This is achieved through the provision of high quality playgroups in the Upper Yarra region; where children experience a range of educational activities and parents are assisted to support their child’s learning.

Gumboots Supported Playgroup is solely supported and funded through the Upper Yarra Community Enterprise. This financial assistance is greatly appreciated and we seek ongoing donations to ensure the program grows and benefit more families. Gumboots rely heavily on donations to support playgroup programs for families with young children.

Your donation will help us maintain our services in the Upper Yarra region – our kids can’t thank you directly, but know you’ve made a big difference to little lives.

My country, our country – we all belong

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day (Children’s Day) which is held on the 4th August every year, was celebrated at Cire Children’s Centre in Yarra Junction.

Children’s Day is a day to celebrate the strengths and culture of our indigenous children. It is a day to help these children stand tall and feel proud and connected to their heritage. It is also a day to help all children learn about the importance of community, culture and family.

The theme of this year’s Children’s Day was “My Country, Our Country- We All Belong.” With this in mind, the children, their parents and staff at the Centre were asked 3 questions

  1. What is belonging?
  2. What does belonging mean to you?
  3. What does it feel like to belong?

Some of the responses were:

“We live somewhere” Eleanor, K4
“Eating. I’m happy” Brachan, K3
“Being in a family friendly environment” Adam, indigenous parent
“With my mummy” Alannah, toddler
“Feeling a part of where I am” Michelle, parent
“The kids know me and talk to me” Leah, work placement student
“Staying with family” Aden, K4
“Feels good” Jenny, toddler
“LOVED” Ash, indigenous parent
“Have fun” Amelia, toddler
“Being accepted for who you are, not what you look like” Bec, parent
“Being part of the jigsaw” Demi, staff
“Identity and origins” Tony, staff

Children's Day creations

The Yarra Junction 4 year old kinder group (K4) had a visit from the Mount Evelyn K4 group and together they explored the Bush Kinder area. This is an area of bushland adjacent to the three and four year old kindergarten rooms and, through their time spent exploring, allows the children to engage in outdoor spaces with plants, trees, rocks, mud and water to invite open ended interactions, spontaneity, risk taking and a connection with nature and the land. The uninterrupted time spent engaging with natural materials helps the children explore and make use of the land they learn and play on.

Other activities that were held on Children’s Day included engaging with indigenous puzzles including those from indigenous Australian artists and photos of our native land and also sharing dream time stories together in bush kinder on the yarning mat. The children really enjoyed how the birds got their colours and when the snake bites the sun.

The children were inspired and enthused when they painted outdoors in the bush kinder using earth colours and tones. Educators discussed with the children how they thought people used paints long before there were paint brushes. The children were then encouraged to source their own materials for painting. Many choose bark, leaves and sticks to use in the paint.

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day was a fantastic experience for not only the children who attend Cire Children’s Centres, but also for their parents and educators.

“We would like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land in which we learn and play, and recognise their continuing connection to land, water and community. We pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.”

Related blog article – Kindergarten a child’s garden

For further information about our early childhood education and care services click here.

Moira’s story, turning 100 and growing up in the valley

Moira Burgi, a valued Cire In Home Care client, celebrated her 100th birthday on Monday 25th July 2016.  Moira is the only grand-child remaining of the original Burgi family, the first settlers in the Wandin district.

Celebrations for Moira’s centenary began with a special mass for her on Saturday 23rd July at her Catholic Church in Lilydale where not only she, but also her mother was Christened. This was followed by a celebration of Moira’s milestone with a gathering of over 150 family and friends at the Gruyere Hall on Sunday 24th July.

“It felt like it was happening to someone else, not me.  It was such a lovely day, I spoke to so many people and it will take me a long, long time to read each of the cards.”  Moira speaking about her celebrations

Johann Burgi, Moira’s grandfather, was a German-speaking Swiss man who came to Victoria in 1854.  He met and married Mary Tyne in 1864, an Irish immigrant from Tipperary, Ireland.  They had 10 children: the second born in 1866, was Edmund, Moira’s father.

In that year Johann had been experimenting growing tobacco on Sam de Pury’s property in Lilydale.  It was at this time that land in the Wandin area was surveyed and made available. Johann selected Lot No.1, a heavily timbered and completely undeveloped area on the corner of what is now known as Burgi Hill Road and Victoria Road.

He set to and cleared enough land to build what he described as “a good comfortable hut” and moved there on May 11th, 1867, bringing his wife and 15 month old son Edmund, Moira’s father with him.

Edmund, in turn, married Mary Lily Kiernan.  They built a house in Victoria Road where Moira was brought up with her two brothers, Bernie and Eddie.  This house is still Moira’s home to this day.

Life was very different when Moira was a child.  She couldn’t recall having any toys – just a paling through the fence for a see-saw and a farm pony to ride.  There were few other children around for herself and her brothers to play with except for their three cousins from Lot 1 John, Mary and Nancy. Church was an hour’s drive away in an open jinker, but Moira’s mother made sure the family never missed a Sunday.

Moira was at school at the convent in Lilydale from the age of 7 years and up until she was 15 in 1931.  Ten years later she trained as a mothercraft nurse and worked with many families in Victoria and interstate.  This was followed by more than a decade in the office at Belloc House in Kew.  In the mid 60’s, she returned home to Wandin to care for her mother full time.

Moira’s father Edmund was the first European child in Wandin.  He and Moira, between them, have seen all of Wandin’s development since.

“Today there are roads, churches, sporting grounds, schools, shopping centres, cars and all sorts of motor vehicles, iPods and mobile phones.  Imagine life in 1866, no running water, no power, no refrigeration or air-conditioning, no phones, no cars, no public facilities, no schools, no glad-wrap and the ‘local’ priest was in Heidelberg! We have certainly come a long way in my 100 years.”

Moira has been a client of Cire In Home Care for a number of years now, and credits her being able to stay in her family home with the expert care and assistance she receives from her carers.

“Thank you so much for all your assistance.  Without your help, I would not have been able to remain in my own home for so long.”

Moira’s long term carers Cassie and Bev very much enjoyed joining in the Sunday afternoon celebrations for Moira’s 100th.

We finish this article with a couple of quotes from Moira.

“Thank you for helping me celebrate my very special birthday”.

“The past is just a memory away…”

If you would like to know more about Cire In Home Care services click here or call 1300 835 235.

Cire In Home Care – Supporting people to live independently 

Students get creative with hair and beauty

As part of the curriculum at Cire Community School, students are required to choose and participate in a ‘project day’ also known as a Personal Development Skill (PDS) class. In these classes, the students are required to work toward goals that the class set together.

Hair & Beauty PDS at Mount Evelyn campus is taught by Megan Small, and her students think she is great. Megan ensures her students get the help they need to get the results they desire. The atmosphere in the class is always a positive one because Megan adds her touch of magic to the group with the least likely students being brought together and working as a unit. The students are encouraged to step outside their comfort zone and apply themselves at things they may usually shy away from. As her students say, if you know Megan, “shy” isn’t in her vocabulary.

The way Megan tailors her curriculum means the students focus is on positive experience, not on doing school work. Megan’s students enjoy the time they have together whilst putting their new-learnt skills into action to better their community and the lives of people within that.

“My class mates are a big part of my enjoyment with this class. We are an unlikely group but we work together well. We motivate one another to persevere, we help those that fall behind and we are just a group of young girls having a good time! I consider myself very fortunate for the amazing class mates I have and how compassionate and kind they all are. It’s been a pleasure to work alongside these girls and I hope in the future they pursue all their dreams and aspirations in life because they have worked unbelievably hard to get there and they deserve it!” VCAL Student 

The Hair and Beauty class’s project for first semester encouraged the participation in volunteer work with groups such as Alexandra Gardens, an aged care facility in Donvale. The students provided the residents with companionship whilst furthering their manicure skills, painting the resident’s fingernails, giving them hand massages and spending time together with the residents chatting.

The students agree the experience was vastly different from anything they had expected. Every time, without fail, the class left with grins from ear to ear buzzing from the fun they had at Alexandra Gardens. It was fascinating for the students to hear the stories and struggles of the aged care residents and to hear how similar their lives are to the students’ lives in some ways, yet so different in other ways. The students found themselves encouraged by the residents to keep going and to follow their dreams and aspirations. Bonds were formed and Megan found herself being asked to organise another date for the class to visit.

“It’s a great feeling to give back to our community for no profit other than the grins that we all leave with. We have learnt so much from our volunteer work, it’s very clear to all students that you only get as much as you put in and we plan to take advantage of that and gain as much as we can from this semester” VCAL Student

The class also visited Megan’s Hair salon Megga Hair where they invited support groups like mothers who suffer from Post Natal Depression along to enjoy free manicures and hair styles that Megan has previously taught the students to create, this is what our students had to say…

“It’s so beautiful to see the women transform into gorgeous confident women and the feeling it fills you with is beyond extraordinary.”

“Even if I am having a bad week, every Tuesday seems to make it that little bit brighter. I think a big part of that is to do with our teacher and the enthusiasm she brings in every morning and the belief she has in each student even if we don’t have it in ourselves.”

“I’m so grateful to not only my teacher, but my class mates for making every semester in Hair & Beauty an incredible journey full of laughter and fun. It wouldn’t be possible without the hard work all parties put in and I will carry the memories I make here well into my adult life and hopefully I will one day be in a retirement home having my hand massaged by an intelligent young woman like my fellow students telling her about my experiences and life journey too.”

Hair and Beauty class student, Molly Charles, feels that Cire Community School is a space of opportunity and support. Molly moved from a mainstream school to Cire and has noticed positive changes since making the change.

“The teachers here interact with the students and are happy to go through steps showing no frustration even if they’re sitting there for an hour saying the same thing over and over. They are willing to do whatever it takes to help the kids here and teach them, but they teach so much more than maths and English. They teach life skills not just banking and all of that but how to go about things in a way that no mainstream teacher would. I value the relationships I have with my teachers at Cire because not only are they teachers they’re my mentors.” Molly – VCAL Student

Cire Community School offers a full range of VCAL programs, for further information click here or call 1300 835 235.

From Cire to Deakin – Corey’s Journey

On Monday 21st of June, one of the students from Cire Community School was presented with the award for Most Outstanding Senior VCAL Student in 2015 at a ceremony at Federation Square.  The award was presented to Corey Everitt by the Hon. James Merlino (above image) in front of a big crowd including staff from Cire Community School and Corey’s parents.  Corey said of his time at Cire that

“it was probably the most significant period in my life thus far. Both for its hardship and reward.”

Corey began his journey at Cire Community School in 2014 after being disengaged from education for more than 12 months before beginning his VCAL studies. He engaged well with his teachers while completing his Intermediate VCAL but had a lot of ups and downs as he battled through some personal issues.   Benefitting from the supportive environment at school where staff and students showed patience in trying to engage him into the program.  Corey recently reflected that

“It’s a common to look down on the VCAL program, mainly for its attraction of people who have yet to engage in their studies or apply themselves. However what some don’t see is that the program gives freedom for active students to prosper and succeed and also an alternative for the few who just need a helping hand for where they want to go.”

Commencing Senior VCAL in 2015 Corey began the year very slowly and was not a very productive member of the class, but the students and staff at Cire Community School continued to support him.  At the beginning of term 2, Corey decided to participate in an activity day called “Super Awesome Fun Day” where students worked in small groups to complete challenges.  After that day, Corey slowly built his confidence in social interactions and began producing some written work.

The change over the course of term 2 was dramatic. He became a highly engaged member of the classroom and worked well with others on a couple of community projects.  He led a photography project where students worked with residents at an aged care home to create a documentary about their lives.  Corey also helped lead a landscaping project where students mowed lawns and did basic landscaping for elderly and disabled members of the local community.

By the start of term 3, Corey was a leading member of the Senior VCAL class.  He expressed an interest in pursuing a career in writing.  Corey’s teacher challenged him to write well beyond the required standard to meet his Senior VCAL outcomes.  We also began the process of looking into university pathways.  Corey wrote extended pieces on mental health, climate change, euthanasia, the character strength of grit and wrote an excellent short story about artificial intelligence. He conducted presentations to the class on topics such as his future career goals with the aim to help fellow class mates.

Corey’s transformation from being disengaged to becoming a hard working and high achieving student was a pleasure to be a part of.  The extent of his achievement was confirmed at the Cire Christmas party where Corey presented in front of over 50 staff and shared his story.  It was a great moment to witness his mother’s pride at seeing him give such a passionate speech to this group and receive such a positive reaction from the audience.

Corey is currently studying a Diploma in Media and Communication at Deakin University.  He hopes to continue studying at Deakin and begin his Bachelor of Arts (Journalism) in 2017.  Corey has made an excellent start to his higher education with good grades across the board.

“The transformation I went through from an absent and reclusive kid to an inspired student who avidly applied himself to school and the community, was a pretty substantial change, unbeknown to me it was supposedly significant enough for a group of judges to think I deserve such an award. Must have been a slow year in student achievements.”

Despite his humility, Corey’s character development and determination to improve himself make him a well deserving recipient of this award.  Corey has developed the confidence and resilience required to set himself up for success at university and life.

From all of us at Cire Services we would like to congratulate Corey on this incredible achievement and wish him all the best in the future.

For further details on Cire Community School VCAL programs click here.

Lend a Hand and UYCH

Lend a Hand is a not-for-profit (NFP) organisation that provides opportunities for unemployed people to build strong community partnerships by undertaking projects in their community to benefit their community.

Recently UYCH and Lend a Hand embarked on a joint project for the UYCH Family and Children’s Services’ (FACs) Mt Evelyn campus to upgrade a playground. This means that the children who attend the centre will benefit from the work of Lend a Hand volunteers and the volunteers themselves will gain transferable skills to take into employment. The project will take six months to complete and will provide opportunities for a team of ten volunteers to learn new skills and work in their community.

The children at FaCS Mt Evelyn are very happy to see how their playground is shaping up and the Lend a Hand volunteers are happy to have enthusiastic onlookers.

About Lend a Hand
They bring together skilled trades people and the enthusiasm of participants to run projects that allow people to learn and gain valuable experiences whilst making a difference to the community.

Lend a Hand is a Victorian and Queensland based NFP organisation delivering a variety of community projects for the benefit of the public. These projects assist providers to keep case-loaded job seekers safe, create sustainable employment opportunities along with additional Work for the Dole (WFD) openings for jobseekers.

How they operate
They support jobseekers by giving them an opportunity to gain skills and experience with on the job training. Safety is paramount so the provision of appropriate equipment and safety gear is also provided to maintain OH&S requirements.

Now for the best bit, job creation
Offering this service allows Lend a Hand to have a unique point of difference for jobactive providers, by developing sustainable entry level jobs for jobseekers along with added single or group based WFD opportunities as a by-product of using our service.  They will up skill newly employed workers with industry recognised accreditations and certificates moving them on to partner employers to generate additional entry level openings. Many jobseekers have gained the skills required and through this program have gone on to secure permanent employment.

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 9.31.52 amFor further information about Lend a Hand call Penny Houben – 0434 003 751 or email penny.houben@lendahand.org.au or simply visit their website.

Community programs – getting students involved

Community programs are an important part of our Yarra Valley Community School’s (YVCS) curriculum. Students gain transferable skills that can help them in the future and also play a part of giving back to the community they live in. Last year the Senior and Intermediate students from YVCS polished up their entrepreneurial skills by creating and running several social enterprise projects. The students developed their own small businesses which they ran in the local community. Money was raised which was then donated to causes that they felt could use their support. These social enterprises included:

School canteen
Car wash ‘Oh my gosh it’s a car wash’
Making and selling beauty products
Growing garden seedlings for selling
Teaching basic computer skills to grade 6 Steiner School students
Providing a landscaping service that included mowing and gardening for elderly and disabled members of the community
Native animals mentoring project – students helped build boxes for the animals with boys from the Mt Evelyn Primary school

These businesses proved to be a great success with funds being raised to help orphans in Bali and a donation to Anchor to support young people dealing with homelessness. They also used some of the funds to pay for their own year 12 graduation dinner.

On Monday 22nd of February they had a visit from Heidi Tucker (CEO) and Lisa Stockheim from Anchor. The students were presented with a certificate of appreciation and a thank you letter for our donation. Lisa had a great discussion with the students about the causes of homelessness and the services that Anchor provides. They also asked how the students would like the money spent. By engaging with the students and having them take part in the decision making it was decided that the money would be spent on food. The students felt that food was the best choice as it would benefit the most number of people. Several of the students were quite disappointed that the funding around homelessness is so inadequate and said they wanted to help more in the future.

“What an inspiration these students are, most coming from disadvantaged backgrounds themselves and their main goal is to help others – we are very grateful for being a part of the 2015 program and look forward to 2016, keep up the great work” Heidi Tucker – CEO Anchor

“The students felt great about being able to help people in need and gained a lot of skills that they can add to their resumes and help them get employment.” Mark Hunt – YVCS Coordinator

“This is totally awesome being able to donate to these great causes.” Sean – VCAL student  (in image above)
The experiences gained through these community programs have helped the students prepare the projects for 2016. Due to the success of last year’s social enterprises some of the same projects will make a return along with some new ideas.

The Social Enterprise Project is supported by the Victorian Government.

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This isn’t the first time the students have raised money for people in need, check out what they did to raise funds for a Kenya orphanage last year.
YVCS Students making a difference
YVCS Students making a difference part 2

If you would like to know more about our youth education programs click here.