Boost for Bunbury students as EdConnect Australia aims to support 500 at-risk kids in 2024

Claudette RizziSouth Western Times
Maree Goulden brings her passion for mindfulness and knowledge of trauma informed yoga as an EdConnect mentor
Camera IconMaree Goulden brings her passion for mindfulness and knowledge of trauma informed yoga as an EdConnect mentor Credit: Claudette Rizzi/South Western Times

Volunteering as an education assistant at Australind Senior High School has reconnected Maree Goulden with the community after the isolation of the COVID pandemic.

Student support not-for-profit EdConnect wants more in the community to be like her and join their team of volunteers.

Last year EdSupport assisted 420 disadvantaged students and this year has a target of at least 500.

Ms Goulden, 75, said volunteering with EdConnect had been important to help keep her involved with the community after COVID and especially as an older person who lives independently.

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She said being an education assistant had taught her that her age is no barrier and the schools have a great need for the services to help the children and saving time for teachers.

‘I have learned to listen more deeply to others and in turn teach resilience skills,” she said.

“I have had to take a step out of my comfort zone and they have provided something for me which is lovely.”

EdConnect volunteer education assistants help with the education and well-being of children from seven schools across Bunbury, Australind and Boyanup.

The volunteers play a pivotal role in fostering vital community connections while offering crucial learning support and mentorship to students at risk of not achieving their educational potential.

The organisation is funded by the Department of Education and was established 25 years ago to provide a structured volunteer service to schools.

EdConnect liaison officer Karen Barden said the volunteers filled a need that teachers alone could not meet.

“Amidst the uncertainties of housing and financial pressures faced by families, students can find it challenging to thrive,” she said.

“Our volunteers inject joy and fun into their school days, creating an atmosphere where learning becomes an exciting journey.

“School staff consistently tell me how much students eagerly anticipate these visits.”

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer education assistant can attend a free information session at Australind Library on Thursday, February 29, at 11am or visit www.edconnectaustralia.org.au

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