On 5th of September we welcomed Southern River College Chaplain, Martin Wynn to our Club meeting.
In his pastoral care role at the College, Martin supports students, parents and staff. Friendship issues, bullying, anxiety and depression, and the impacts of ADHD are common concerns, and suicide risk assessment the most challenging of his responsibilities.
Martin has been using Lego in his work for a number of years. He finds it a really useful aid in his social/emotional programs – for starting conversations, building resilience and developing problem-solving skills – as well as a providing a fabulous creative outlet for teens. The recent resurgence in Lego popularity and competitive Lego building – fuelled by TV shows such as Lego Masters – inspired Martin to establish a Lego Club at Southern River College, to which our club donated Lego, last year. Aside from the opportunity to do great things with Lego, the club gives students a quiet place to develop friendships and co-operative skills, which is particularly valuable for those who are more introverted or don’t fit in well with other group-based activities.
In his role as school Chaplain, Martin has found that poverty ‘is a real thing’ in our area. He often helps connect students’ families to agencies for financial counselling/relief and food relief, and the school supplies food hampers for those requiring immediate assistance. Martin also runs a Breakfast Club, three mornings a week, which is regularly attended by 40 to 50 students each morning.
From his perspective, the demarcation between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ that leads to self-esteem problems and tends to cause friction within a school, could be ameliorated to a huge extent by the provision of uniforms for students whose families really can’t afford them. ‘The uniform is such an equaliser,’ he said. With a clean, new, well-fitting uniform, students become individuals assessed on their own merits, no longer tarred by the misfortunes or poor decision making of their parents.
There is definitely some interesting food for thought there, and it might be that Rotary Southern Districts can do something to assist in future. For now, however, we were pleased to present Martin with a further donation of Lego blocks, to help the budding Southern River engineers.