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Achieving Greatness Against All Odds

A Tale of Resilience from the Young People We Serve

COVID 19 has truly changed the world. It has changed so much of our daily lives, it has changed how
we relate to one another, how we learn, how we teach and how we provide vital services to some of
our community’s most vulnerable children and young people. It has been a challenge to navigate a
new normal and continue to ensure the children we serve receive the very best opportunities
available to them.

My role at Parkerville Children and Youth Care is to manage our wonderful Education, Employment,
and Training (EET) programme. The EET Programme is a unique programme that aims to prepare
young people aged 14 to 16, who are at risk of failing school, for the world of work. Our goal is to
teach programme participants basic work skills and encourage them to develop a solid work ethic.
The programme is registered with the Department of Education and Training and caters for young
people who have been excluded from school, received multiple suspensions, are chronic truants or
school refusers.

When the restrictions due to the COVID-19 outbreak were put in place forbidding face to face
schooling and contact, we braced ourselves for a very challenging period for our kids. The challenges
for our young people in the programme who already struggle with education were already so great
and COVID was yet another obstacle for them to cross.

We know from experience that the young people who join us in this programme are capable of
wonderful outcomes, gaining skills that help them to thrive as they enter adulthood. What we didn’t
know was exactly how they would react to the unprecedented disruption that COVID-19 had caused,
but we were so pleasantly surprised.

The first challenge we noticed was that the young people struggled with the lack of personal contact.
They had to get used to socially distancing and finding a new way of greeting without physical
contact, this meant no more handshakes, friendly jostling, or hugs for their classmates. They used
elbow pumps and feet taps to greet each other, a sentiment we all had to grow familiar with I am
sure.

The one area that surprised us the most was their continued engagement in their education. Each of
the young people is studying their Certificate II in General Education for Adults. For two weeks we
went to distance learning. Each young person completed daily lessons over the phone with a teacher.
The student’s ability to adapt to this was fantastic as 10 out of 12 students picked up each day,
completed lessons, and some even asked for extra lessons and assignments to do. After this EET
went to alternate days to keep the numbers low. Once again, the students surprised us by adapting
well and attending on the correct days. Some even found alternative transport routes due
to limited public transport.

We are so incredibly proud of these young people and we are extremely pleased to report that ALL
students completed their Certificate II in General Education- and not only that, they did so a whole 4
weeks before the expected date which was exceptional, especially given the circumstances.

Written by Anna Ellis – EET Programme Manager Parkerville Children and Youth Care

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