As the school community celebrates the Class of 2017, I would like to acknowledge a particular group of students who have contributed not only to the school as a whole but also the wider community. A group of dedicated students have been a part of the Tintern Grammar Social Justice Group since Year 7 and can proudly say that for the past five years they have played a role in helping people break out of the poverty cycle through funding their education.
The Social Justice Group has participated in numerous activities and larger initiatives, beginning with weekly lunchtime sessions where we have deconstructed and analysed key societal issues and events such as the poverty cycle, the Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations, climate change and global health challenges around the world. We have had students participate in the Live Below the Line campaign run by the Oaktree Foundation, which saw Tintern Grammar as the 3rd top fundraising school in Australia, placing us 1st in Victoria. The campaign involved spending only $2 a day (defined by the World Bank as a state of poverty) on food and drink, excluding water, for five days. This highlighted that what we consider a small amount of money can make a significant difference in another’s life. Just $37 can provide textbooks and stationery for one student and $10,000 can provide a classroom for a whole community.
Additionally, each year has seen the group organise and run a major fundraising event in support of the Oaktree Foundation for a number of years and more recently the Sunflower Foundation. These events have included Market Nights, Masquerade Balls, Movie Nights, Trivia Nights and this year a Comedy Night. All aspects of planning these events, from advertising and organisation of entertainment to decorations and sourcing donations, was carried out by the students, each of whom should be congratulated for their phenomenal teamwork. Looking back on the events, it is simply amazing to see what students can accomplish as a team if they have an end goal in sight.
I hope that each student who has been a part of the Social Justice Group can look back on their time in the group and know that they have taken part in something special. This is an entirely voluntary co-curricular group which required the students to spend their lunchtimes talking about poverty, issues of social justice and trying to make the world a better place. I believe each student has grown in some way through these sessions or developed a skill, whether that be event planning techniques, a greater awareness of poverty in our world and what we can do to help, or simply an appreciation for the privileged lives we lead.
I would also like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank the school community for their ongoing support of the fundraising events run by this dedicated group of students. Thanks to your support the group has raised over $25,000 since 2012 which is a tremendous effort, considering all events were entirely student-run. This money has gone towards providing education to those who may otherwise never receive it, which will hopefully help these young people break out of the poverty cycle.
It has been an absolute pleasure to mentor these girls for the past five years and I have seen them grow into strong, passionate women who are ready to make a difference in the world.
I look forward to seeing the continued success of the Social Justice Group in the future and wish the students all the best in their future endeavours.
by Alex Wakeley (YG 2012), Tintern Grammar Social Justice Group Facilitator
Congratulations to the following students who have been involved in the Poverty Project/Social Justice Group from Year 7-12:
- Emily Cowin
- Sienna Gerin
- Emily McLean
- Eliza Mignot
- Sophie Paul
- Grace Power
- Karly Rosenbrock
- Louise Smith
- Meg Swain
Left: Social Justice Group in Year 7. Right: Social Justice Group in Year 12.