Central Coast Council’s Indigenous health and education program for high school students will be presented at an international conference in Canada later this month.
Council’s Indigenous Community Development Worker, Matt Sonter, will present Ngura (meaning place) at the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education (WIPCE) in Toronto, Ontario, from 24-28 July.
Known as one of the most prestigious Indigenous education events the world has to offer, WIPCE attracts highly-regarded Indigenous education experts, practitioners and scholars from across the globe to share successes and strategies for culturally-grounded Indigenous education.
Council Group Leader Connected Communities, Ms Julie Vaughan, said this is an amazing feat for something that started as a program aimed at encouraging Indigenous students to develop a healthy lifestyle and live a fuller life.
“The Ngura program is gaining a real sense of recognition on the Central Coast and internationally,” Ms Vaughan said.
“Each year the program continues to grow in our local schools and you can see the benefits from the students attending, as well as growing recognition in the wider community.
“The awesome performances by students in the dance residency program at the NAIDOC Week celebrations are another great example of how Council is working with students to reconnect with their culture.
“The community were blown away by the standard of dancing from the students, but more so the pride they showed while performing.
“Ngura focuses on more than the students. The work Matt does with the students, their families and the wider Indigenous community here on the Coast is remarkable.
“This year Ngura is celebrating its 10-year anniversary and there’s no better way to do this than on the world stage.”
In 2009, Ngura was honoured by the United Nations in the Kinnie Chase Awards for Health and Education – leading to first nation’s communities in America and Canada running a similar version of the program for their students.
The Ngura program focuses on Aboriginal health issues, nutrition, leadership, self-image, and goal setting, as well as maintaining participants pride in their Indigenous culture and heritage.
The program shows students the importance of physical activity and at its completion the students obtain certificates in Level 1 Aboriginal History and Level 1 Sport & Recreation, as well as their Bronze Medallion.
As part of the 10-year anniversary, Council went back to where it all started, with one of the original participants and 15 students from Years 7-9 at Gorokan High School.
Gorokan High School teacher, Mr Trent Lake, was one of the original graduates of the Ngura program in 2007, and said he was excited to see the program continuing to grow.
“I’m honoured to be involved with Ngura again, this time as a teacher, and seeing the changes it makes to the students involved,” Mr Lake said.
“I have to admit, if it wasn’t for the program 10 years ago, I don’t think I would be teaching today.
“Ngura helped me gain confidence and responsibility. It also gave me an understanding of what goals are and how to set goals in life - they aren’t served on a platter, you need to work hard and make sacrifices to achieve them.
“I had my heart set on a sporting career and through the program I learnt how to focus on the future through education, which opened up a number of opportunities for me – I was offered scholarships to help further my education and sporting career.
“Ten years on I’m a qualified teacher. I went out and learnt what I needed to, but I was always coming back to where it all started to give back to my community.
“Ngura is already being used in Indigenous communities overseas, and I will be encouraging more students and schools to be involved each year, as I have personally experienced its benefits.
“This program is a valuable council initiative and I hope to be part of the journey that sees Ngura grow even bigger and better for our community.”