Learning from each other
Every Wednesday, Crestwood Public School kindergarten students bubble over with excitement.
That's because it is the day Coreen School (a special school for students with learning difficulties) volunteers arrive at the Baulkham Hills school in Sydney's west and help the students have a healthy lifestyle.
The Year 9 and 10 Coreen volunteers have devised activities to help develop hand-eye coordination, motor skills and general fitness.
Crestwood Public principal Denise Hazell couldn't be happier.
"The Coreen students do a fantastic job running fitness activities that get everyone involved," Ms Hazell said.
"It's great to see positive relationships being formed between teenagers and young children.
"The Premier's Student Volunteering Awards has brought great benefits to our school."
But the benefits flow both ways.
Since the Coreen students started volunteering there has been greatly improved student attendance in Years 9 and 10 on the Wednesdays.
Coreen volunteering coordinator Tiffany Nowland said the practical project not only met curriculum objectives, but also genuine community needs at the Blacktown school.
"On Wednesday mornings our students learn about the activity they will be running, and practice how to communicate with others," Ms Nowland said.
"After the program is complete, they discuss any problems and what changes should be made."
Ms Nowland said the school had concentrated on building the coaching and social skills of students, but added the students had also learned a lot from their relationship with the kindergarten children.
"What started as a Service Learning Program is now part of the Volunteering Awards," Ms Nowland said.
The Awards, which began in 2009, now have about 300 schools volunteering.
Western Sydney regional student volunteering coordinator Celina Mina said teenagers across the state had embraced the program.
"It shows the program is really engaging students," Ms Mina said.
"Most importantly, it shows how teenagers contribute to the community."
Photo: Crestwood students enjoy the weekly visits from the Coreen students. Photo by Janette Bartram.