Taking students out of the classroom to learn new skills, improve their confidence and re-engage them with the education system is the aim of the Community Connections Program run by Hume Valley School, a government school near CSL Behring’s leading-edge Broadmeadows, Australia, manufacturing site.
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The Hume Valley School provides education to more than 300 students, ages 5 to 18, from the area with mild intellectual disabilities. The school provides an inclusive curriculum with individual learning plans for all students. The individualized plans are a necessity since many students come into the school with limited or no preschool education or preparedness. More than half of the children come from homes where English is a second language.
In 2017, the school was awarded a $20,000 CSL Behring Australia Community Grant to support the roll out of the Community Connections Program across the entire student population – an action the school could not implement alone due to limited funding.
Employees at the CSL Behring Broadmeadows site selected the winning grant based on its alignment with the company’s global community contributions framework, which supports community efforts where our employees live and work.
The Community Connections Program runs alongside regular classes across the school and offers a range of hands-on, alternative education opportunities with the aim of re-engaging the disengaged and working on behavioral change through social and emotional targeted strategies. Students are provided access to the wider community and encouraged to set high expectations for themselves so they don’t feel trapped or limited by their circumstances.
Students participating in the program learn a diverse range of skills; from milking cows to make cheese and collecting eggs to make an omelette to hosting a radio show and making their own furniture.
The success of the program has been significant for the school, with an increase in student attendance and a marked decrease in incidents of challenging or anti-social behavior.
Commenting on the impact of the program, one 16-year-old participant said, “I wanted to stay home this morning but then I remembered I had the radio show and I would never miss that.”
Another student, 14, said, “I don’t want to be sick on a Tuesday because then I wouldn’t be able to work at the farm and that would let the team down.”