Six Illawarra schools are competing for a $5000 prize that will allow them to run important community projects.
Albion Park High, Albion Park Public, Edmund Rice College, Illawarra Senior College, Lake Illawarra High and Tullimbar Public School are in the running to win a CUA prize, with projects including a swim scheme, bicycle fitness and a school breakfast program.
The public is encouraged to vote for their favourite project.
Edmund Rice College is hoping to expand its existing soup kitchen.
As part of their senior hospitality Certificate II, Edmund Rice College's year 11 boys visit Wollongong's Wesley Church about once or twice each term to provide a hot meal for some of the city's homeless.
"We cook here in our kitchens for 80 people and then we transport that food down to the Wesley Church and the boys serve the food to the clientele for lunch," hospitality teacher Sheree McDonell said.
"It's an opportunity for the boys to get a service period, but also provide something to the community."
She said the soup kitchen guests were always grateful but her students benefited as well.
"The clientele love it - we go two days in a row and once they know we're coming the second day is always packed," Ms McDonell said.
"The boys get a lot out of it too - they might feel nervous or uncomfortable at the start, but once they see how they are helping and making a difference they get such a feel-good feeling."
Ms McDonell said winning the prize would help the school expand the program further.
The six Illawarra projects are:
■Albion Park High School – The Bravehearts Initiative. Provides students with a healthy breakfast and an exercise session once a week, to help battle obesity rates in the community and raise general health and well-being.
■Albion Park Public School – The Rock and Water Program. Developed by Dutch educator Freerk Ykema, it teaches practical anti-bullying strategies, alternatives to aggressive behaviour, and general ways for students to develop self-respect, self-control and self-confidence.
■Edmund Rice College – Expanding Our Soup Kitchen. The college will provide additional supplies to their existing soup kitchen, to ensure the program keeps running.
■Illawarra Senior College – Health and Wellbeing Program. A health program to promote the benefits of exercise and healthy lifestyle choices. With a high proportion of disengaged and disadvantaged students, the school hopes to buy a class set of bicycles and helmets that will allow students to overcome barriers to exercising by using local cycle tracks.
■Lake Illawarra High School – Refurbishing the Drama Room. Lake Illawarra High’s drama room is under-used and empty due to lack of resources and fixtures but has the potential to be an extremely functional and valuable learning and performance space. The schools hopes to install carpet and flooring to create a stage area.
■Tullimbar Public School – Swim Scheme. The school hopes to increase attendance rates at swimming lessons and help students gain confidence in and around the water.
For more details or to cast a vote, visit www.cuacommunitycare.com.au.