Strengthening Our Girls In Woorabinda
‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’
It’s a simple question that can have great impact. And it’s one that Indigenous Engagement Officer Desanya Stanley regularly asks the Year 5 and 6 girls who participate in the ‘Strengthening Our Girls’ Program at Woorabinda State School.
‘I try to build aspiration by getting them to think about what they want to be when they grow up,’ Desanya said.
‘One of the girls said she wants to be Mayoress. I went and told the Mayor, so now every time he sees her, he reminds her.’
Building aspiration is just one aspect of the program, which has been running in the small central Queensland community since 2015. Desanya works with the girls for 90 minutes each week, with the aim of promoting self-respect and self-worth, healthy relationships, goal planning and good decision-making.
‘It’s about building resilience and character, and making healthy choices. We do activities to help the girls improve their life skills – it can include things as basic as cooking.’
And the program has also given the girls the opportunity to get out of town, and visit somewhere new. Last year they took a trip to Yepoon, QLD, where they were treated to all the luxuries of a coastal resort.
‘The idea was to treat them like princesses, to give them a different perspective and help them understand that they can achieve things outside their everyday,’ Desanya said.
‘We dressed them up and did a photoshoot. Later on I printed and framed the photos, which I think the girls, and their parents, really appreciated.’
Since the program began, Woorabinda State School has seen a marked decrease in negative behaviour amongst the Year 5 and 6 girls, and an increase in school attendance.
Desanya said it’s easy to see the change in outlook amongst the girls.
‘There was one young girl who was very quiet and shy. But participating in the program helped her build her confidence, and she ended up becoming a school leader the following year. She had to get up and speak in front of the whole school – seeing her be able to do that was huge.’
That’s certainly something to be proud of, and it shows that asking a simple question really can go a long way.