At Citywide we are committed to being a socially responsible organisation. We aim to reach out to the broader communities of which we belong to and service, to share the skills and experience of our diverse “Citywide community”, to foster social connections and enhance quality of life.
Our Bayside open spaces horticulture team has been involved with a volunteer program through the Berendale School for over four years and with the Hands Up! Volunteering program since the start of this year. Our Team Leader Laurie Morgan and Leading Hand Paul Tope both said it’s very rewarding to give back to the community, and to use our skills and resources to see students learn, grow in confidence and potentially discover something new that they really enjoy. Here’s what Berendale School have to say about Citywide’s participation:
Citywide are supporting the Beyond the School Gates student volunteer program (known as ‘Hands Up!’) by providing students from Berendale School (a local special school) with fantastic opportunities to participate in volunteer work that involves planting, mulching and general garden work. These experiences are enormously beneficial to the students in a number of ways.
The students from the Hands Up! Volunteer group are involved in fortnightly sessions that involve learning about what volunteering means and the benefits that it brings, both to the individual and to the community. These students have been encouraged to participate in volunteering in order to expand their skills, discover areas of interest and connect with the local community.
The opportunities that Citywide is providing assist the students with their learning and help them gain a deeper understanding of volunteering. As well, the students learn new skills, which they can then use and develop in the future.
Nicole Blain, a lead teacher from Berendale School, has found this to be very beneficial for her students, and has said that: “Year 10 Berendale students had a real volunteering work experience with Citywide gardening services. They were directed to work as a team to spread mulch, and then taught how to correctly plant some seedlings to transform the surrounding area of the park. The students were also helped by James, a senior Berendale student who is completing regular work experience with Citywide.”
Having students participate in these opportunities has allowed many of them to discover that they:
• Either do or don’t enjoy this type of work.
• Have skills and capabilities that they were unaware of.
• Enjoy gardening and are interested in learning more about the environment.
• Enjoyed the hands-on component of the work.
• Grew in confidence.
• Want to (or now have more) of a willingness to try new things.
All of these are great outcomes and discoveries for the students – students with a disability often learn best by ‘doing’ and by being given the opportunities to experience and try new things, and Citywide have definitely assisted with this.