In Term One, while the Junior students are at camp, the Senior students have a number of incursions within the school to support their learning, well-being and sense of community. At the beginning of the session we introduced our Random Acts of Kindness cards and encouraged the students to do simple acts of kindness within the school community and beyond it. 

"It was great fun and it was wonderful giving and finding little gifts to and from people. It was also quite fun listening to the stories at the end of SHAW."

"I recommend this session for next year. I think it was a really lovely experience and feeling to give someone something unexpected, a kind comment or a hug or a gift. I think it's important that everyone at VCASS makes an effort to do something kind for someone else every day, and the random acts of kindness project really reminded me of this."

This year our Guest speaker was Lorin Nicholson. Hugely entertaining, Lorin told his story of being diagnosed at age four, with a genetic eye disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa RP and with only 10% sight, was declared legally blind. Lorin possessed an incredible inner strength, resilience and determination that allowed him to dig deep, fight hard and muster every ounce of his will-power just to be normal. Amazingly, he has achieved far above and beyond most abled people.  He is a gifted guitarist, story-teller and has a great sense of humour. He had the students fully engaged and was absolutely inspirational.

As one student stated, “It was so inspirational to see how, despite the obstacles of his sight, he still led an amazing life filled with music and happiness'.

The Year 10 students also participated in a Fight Back self defence class with Howard Kimber and his daughter. Practical information was given to students about how to look after themselves when under threat. One student made an insightful comment about how empowered they felt - 'makes things that bit less scary.' 

The students were also guided on best practice for their time management with Elevate Education. Now they are in senior school, practical organisation and time management are vital! Lachlan from Elevate provided sensible tips and advice. Again, we received good feedback about the content of this session - 'I would recommend this session, the study plan they presented was actually helpful and something that is doable and something I can see myself doing.

The Year 11 Students participated in an Olympic Sports Carnival. What a highlight! It was such a fun morning and a great way to integrate the current students with the new. Wellbeing teams competed against one another with the winning group Perry Power taking home the aggregate trophy! Once again - great feedback from students when asked if it was a worthwhile part of the program -

'I would 100% recommend this session next year. I had so much fun and made more connections with people from other streams. It was the best day of all three of the program.'

'THIS WAS THE BEST!!!!! Had the chance to connect with my peers and learn so much about them. My wellbeing group has formed this strong bond due to the Olympics. I now know everyone names, strengths, personalities, etc..'

The organization Spin Chat was also invited back to VCASS to present to our Year 11s. Paul Mariager shared his story about his spinal injury. The fact that each year there are 350-400 new cases of spinal cord injury reported (that’s more than one every day), and the age group at the highest risk of suffering a spinal cord injury is 15-34 year olds, it is important for students to acknowledge the impact of risk taking behaviours - recognising they are not infallible and need to make safe and sensible choices.

'Paul was so interesting and he really emphasised the fact that you really don't know what you've got until its gone. He taught me to be grateful for absolutely everything I have.'

Year 12 Students participated in a Silent Disco with Duk Duk Disco. Hilarious to watch! And despite some overzealous table dancing (Ha!), the event was a great way for year 12s to let off some steam and have fun across the streams – many students have asked for these opportunities - 'We can interact and become closer.'

Lachlan from Elevate also presented to the Year 12s offering them tips on how they could 'Ace their Exams.' “… it provided some interesting insight into the exam, as well as clarity and strategy for the year ahead.’

A new speaker was Susan Eldridge from Notable Values who shared her knowledge on how artists need the right mindset, skills and tools to thrive as a musician, dancer, theatre maker or visual artist.  

‘This was amazing. She was very engaging and helped me immensely with figuring out how to value/interpret my art as a career.’

Both Year 11 and 12 Students were also presented to by VCASS Alumni from their various Specialist areas. We love to welcome past students back to talk about their post VCASS journey. Students often comment on the value of this presentation as the Alumni understand how they are feeling and can relate to their situation. They also have some good tips for the future.

'This was amazing in speaking to someone who understood you and someone you could ask personal questions to about how they managed with this experience. For example, I asked her about managing time, money and socialising at university and she was very helpful in explaining some of my curiosities about managing room shares and jobs.'

It has been really valuable getting feedback on the program from students, with many suggesting great ideas for next year and ways to improve the program to suit their needs. We thank students for their participation, positivity and insight. We also thank Ms Gannon for all her incredible work in putting the 2020 SHAW Program together.

It was a great three days!

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