"Breaking down the Barriers" to successful learning

November 28, 2019

When Year 9, Rural Campus student Harrison Collins first heard about the school project he’d need to complete, he knew exactly what his focus was going to be – combating child poverty.

Harrison first became interested in the cause through his involvement with the charity Breakfast Club. His mother had suggested he help out with their Christmas Store (helping struggling families through the festive season) back in 2014. The charity’s key focus is helping students from low decile schools, through providing them with free breakfast, basic school supplies and foodbanks for families in need.

During the five years that Harrison has volunteered for the charity, he’s developed an exceptional relationship with Steve Farrelly who runs the charity and has enjoyed learning from him. Harrison says the key thing he’s realised through volunteering is “Everyone’s equal. You don’t need to view anyone differently because of their financial status or anything like that.”

The project that Harrison developed for his schoolwork is called “Breaking Down the Barriers”. During the research phase, he spoke to a number of people including his mother who is a primary school teacher. Having these discussions helped him understand what the needs were and how he could help.

Through speaking to his mother, Harrison learnt that it’s vital for children to start off strong on their educational journey and this begins right from their first day of school. Being prepared and having the necessary school supplies has an incredible impact on a child’s ability to learn. He also heard about instances where some new entrants would show up to school with a plastic bag in hand as they didn’t have a backpack.

This motivated Harrison to raise enough funds to put together 20 winter backpacks filled with school supplies including a lunchbox, drink bottle, beanie, gloves, socks, colouring pad, pajamas, pants and a bubble wand. He ended up raising over $1100 through the Facebook page he set up which allowed him to put together a further 10 summer back packs which includes more seasonal items including togs, a towel and a tog bag.

Harrison has also recently landed a corporate donation, which will help him realise his hopes of carrying on this project into the new year. Fletcher Living will be donating 100 bags, towels, lunchboxes and reading books which will go towards his goal of putting together 100 bags next year to donate to schools in need. His wider ambition is to get Dilworth and the school community more involved in his project. He’d like to offer students from low decile areas the opportunity to experience some of the world-class facilities at Dilworth that they may not otherwise get the chance to, including the indoor rock-climbing wall. His other ideas involve getting senior students from sports teams at the school to coach some of the children.

When asked what he’d say to other young people considering volunteering their time Harrison answered “Just do it. It’s one of the best feelings knowing that you’ve made someone’s day with such a small action.”