EcoHealth program starts with Margaret River students

7 May 2021

Twenty-four students from Margaret River Senior High School years 10 and 11 have been selected for the pilot program. Photo: Stuart Hicks

A pioneering program offering students nature based learning opportunities has begun in Margaret River.

Co-coordinator Suzanne Hicks said the EcoHealth program aimed to improve the mental health and resilience of those involved, and well as repairing local environment by engaging students in ecological regeneration work and upkeep of the Cape to Cape track.

“This is an incredible opportunity to get young people out in nature, in a systematic way that is good for them and for the environment,” Mrs Hicks said.

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Wadandi man Wayne Webb welcomes MRSHS students at the Rivermouth. Photos: Stuart Hicks

“It helps build knowledge as well as mental and physical resilience. No doubt for some of them it will help give pointers for future careers.”

Twenty four students from Margaret River SHS years 10 and 11 have been selected for the pilot program. They will participate in activities for a full day once a week, with successful participation counting towards students’ academic record.

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Photos: Stuart Hicks

The program was launched last week at Margaret Rivermouth when Wadandi man Wayne Webb welcomed the students to country and told them stories of the river.

“The students have been really enthusiastic. They’ve jumped at the chance to participate, and have got right into it,” said Paola Pastorelli, Head of Vocational Education Training and Career Development at MRSHS.

“As sophisticated and interesting as classrooms can be in 2020, they do not always capture the imagination and soul of the students.

“Traditional career paths are still the go to for most of our students regardless of achievement level or motivation – therefore the program provides a perfect best practice model for students to holistically experience, discovery of environment and self, the thrill of learning outside of a classroom, appreciation, and value of teamwork and altruism.

“Day one feedback was sensational, smiles, high fives and willingness to share experiences…ECO Health is a success!”

To be selected students had to demonstrate that they had the aptitude and transferable skills to embrace a challenge that would inspire them to do more, motivate them to do well and encourage them to engage with all learning opportunities.

The 2021 program is funded by Gondwana Link, supported by a wide range of volunteers and includes support from Nature Conservation Margaret River, Lower Blackwood LCDC, Mindful Margaret River, Fair Harvest, Friends of the Cape to Cape Track, DBCA, Owl Friendly Margaret River, Margaret River Organic Farmers and Four Islands EcoHealth.

Wadandi custodian Zac Webb will work with students to instruct them on traditions and approaches to country.

The program is viewed as a forerunner for students in future years at MRSHS and could be extended to other regional high schools.

First published in the Augusta Margaret River Mail 7 May 2021

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