Johnathan Thurston jumps into action to ensure Indigenous kids in remote communities stay connected during Coronavirus

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Johnathan Thurston’s Academy, NBN Co and Skytrans have pulled off the impossible to ensure Indigenous children in remote communities are not left socially isolated during school closures due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

With the Coronavirus continuing to spread, Thurston feared that the remote communities who take part in the academy’s JTBelieve programs, funded by the Australian Government’s Indigenous Advancement Strategy, would become more isolated and it would have long term impact on the mental well-being of the wider communities.

Last week, Thurston called NBN Co to ask for their help and they jumped at the chance to assist. In under 48 hours, all parties had coordinated the installation of systems into Kowanyama and Yarrabah, with Thursday Island not far behind,  so Thurston and the academy could beam personal daily messages, school lessons and other information directly into the communities.

Thurston will be chatting with the kids over his own NBN connection from his Townsville home. Skytrans has generously transported the necessary equipment into the communities to establish the vital link.

JTAcademy has been running these programs, in conjunction with the local communities, for more than two years, with outstanding results including 91% school attendance in some cases.

But Thurston said he was very worried a lot of that good work would quickly come undone if local schools were closed due to the Coronavirus.

“I am so grateful to NBN Co and Skytrans for moving heaven and earth to help us make this happen,” Thurston said. “Without them this would have not happened and the fact they both jumped at the chance to ensure these kids were looked after says so much about their focus and commitment to the regional communities of Australia.

“As a result of our programs, which work hand-in-hand with the local elders and Council bodies, the kids in these communities are fully engaged, more confident, taking part in more extra-curricular activities, but I am worried that this will suffer during any school closures.

“The impact of that on the kids could be quite devastating. These communities already feel a sense of isolation and I am concerned how quickly this could escalate to wider community health and well-being concerns.

“I fear for our kids if they become cut off from society and I want to ensure they don’t feel abandoned. We have JTAcademy team members on the ground in each community, working hard to keep our participants calm and positively engaged and I have instructed my academy team to do whatever it takes to ensure we have a good connection with each community,” he said.

NBN Co’s Head of Regional and Remote Gavin Williams said they were very happy they could assist and work with the academy to facilitate the installation of the satellites to ensure the kids can stay connected during this period.

“We are proud to have been able to facilitate this,” Mr Williams said.

“Ensuring the kids can stay connected and that their engagement with the academy remains is incredibly important.  The work the academy is doing in these remote locations is incredible and it was important to us that we could play a small part in supporting them and ensuring it’s not interrupted during this time.”

The Academy has also worked with each community to set up temporary locations, such as the Council Chambers and library so the kids can meet (on a roster) in small groups to view and partake in the material transmitted by the academy through the newly installed satellites.

SkyTrans Chairman Peter Collings said the company jumped at the chance to provide support in transporting the supplies and the team who provided the installation.

“It was touch and go there for a while if we could get into the communities before the lockdown but the work the Academy did in facilitating all key players on short notice was amazing,” Mr Collins said.

“We are very proud to have played a part in this project and give back to our regional communities.”

Since 2018, Thurston has focused on making a difference in the lives of young Indigenous people by improving their access to employment and educational opportunities through the JTAcademy.

 

For more information please call Sarah Morgan on 0421 664 969.

JTBelieve Every Day Counts – Term 3 Winners

Education Term 3 Winners

We are excited to announce the second cohort of winning classes as part of the JTBelieve Every day counts pilot delivered in partnership with the Department of Education.

Each participating school recognised one class for their Term 3 attendance performance. Every student from the winning classes will receive a JTBelieve Award letter, as well as a Certificate, personally signed by Johnathan Thurston.

A special mention to Class 8F from Spinifex State College who was the overall winner from the participating schools. Each student from their winning class will also receive a JT Academy pack consisting of a bag, cap, water bottle, postcard and notepad.

“I would like to again congratulate all the students, parents, carers and teachers from the winning classes for their ongoing commitment to their education,” Johnathan said.

“A special shout out to Spinifex State College who lead the way for the participating schools”

“I would like to thank the Department of Education and all the participating schools for supporting the initiative this year”

The winning classes were:

School Class
Spinifex State College Class 8F
Bloomfield River State School Class 4/5/6
Burketown State School Class P2
Charleville State School Class Prep S
Sunset State School Class 2K
Hopevale Campus of CYAAA Class DI3
Thuringowa State High School Class 9B
St. George State School Class 3/4B
Townview State School Class 6A

 

Note – The JTBelieve Every day counts pilot is about supporting and encouraging students to believe in themselves and turn up – every day. The Every day counts campaign comprises animations and comic books. Have a look for JT himself, featured in The new adventures of Jimmy and Sam the Dog animation and comic book.

Coomera State School Students inspired by JTAcademy visit

KLN Coomera workshop Blog

The JT Academy was recently invited to hold four JTBelieve workshops for Year 5 and 6 students at Coomera State School, supported by key partner KLN Group.

KLN Group, which specialises in providing electrical and technological solutions to the construction and services sector, has been a partner since the Academy’s launch in 2018 and is a huge supporter of its work.

Managing Director Brett Nicholson said the company was committed to building courage, confidence and self-belief in primary school children.

“It was great for our company to sponsor the JT Academy’s visit to Coomera State School and talk to the students about building self-belief and self-confidence,” Mr Nicholson said.

“I am very proud to know that we share the values and objectives of the JTAcademy to foster young people, like the students at Coomera State School, in the ways they need support.

JTBelieve is designed to engage students and their families in education. Participants are mentored and the workshops are facilitated by ambassadors who have been identified and invited by Johnathan Thurston.

The JT Academy Ambassadors act as role models and mentors to support and encourage the participants and their families to build their aspirations and achieve their goals.

The program delivers in-school mentoring and support from the JT Academy; regular presentations on self-belief, confidence and courage.

It is these partnerships with those providing the work and on-the-job training, which have proven such a success in what the JTAcademy is striving to achieve.

A spokesperson from Coomera State School said the workshops had engaged and inspired the young students.

“The information and messages provided were quite appropriate for the age group,” the spokesperson said.

“It was a worthwhile activity and we thank the JT Academy and KLN Group for providing this opportunity for our students.”

 

Johnathan Thurston to visit Quilpie to deliver motivational workshops to locals

JT Speaker

Australian rugby league legend Johnathan Thurston will bring his Johnathan Thurston Academy to Quilpie at the end of October to present a series of workshops to the local community to help inspire and prepare them for the future. He will also attend the official opening of the refurbished Quilpie Football Grounds.

Areas covered by Quilpie Shire Council have been particularly hard hit by the drought crisis. Thurston’s visit to the region is being funded by the Western Queensland PHN under the Empowering Our Communities Initiative and Quilpie Shire Council.

It is hoped the workshops will help lift the spirits of locals bringing them together to celebrate as a community.

Thurston will arrive in Quilpie on October 28 where he will host junior rugby league workshops at the footy grounds. The following day Thurston and his team from the Johnathan Thurston Academy will deliver the JTSucceed workshop to local students, which has been designed to encourage youth to stay in school – and attend – until they have finished their education.

The team will then deliver the JTFutureLeaders Workshop to a selected group of 18 to 35-year-olds from the region who hold, or are moving into, leadership positions. It has been developed to help build their confidence and understanding of the importance of their roles in being good role models placing the community firmly at the centre of their decision-making.

Rural landholders and staff from Quilpie Shire Council will also benefit from a motivational session from Thurston to boost morale.

The three day visit has been made possible thanks to Quilipie Shire Council and the Western Queensland PHN a not-for-profit organisation formed by South West Hospital and Health Service, Central West Hospital and Health Service and North West Hospital and Health Services. The group’s charter is to provide a strong foundational platform to improve primary health care services throughout the Western Queensland region which has been badly affected by drought.

Quilpie Shire Council Mayor, Stuart Mackenzie said the visit is sure to boost the spirits of the small outback communities of the shire. 

“Rural property owners and local business operators have been particularly hard hit by the impacts of the prolonged drought conditions,” Cr Mackenzie said.

“The impacts resonate throughout the entire community including our youth whose families are often struggling financially.”

Thurston, who is the Managing Director of the JT Academy, has spent much of his time since retiring from rugby league promoting programs which encourage and support Australian youth into meaningful employment and education.

“The JT Academy was developed to inspire, support and to set our nation’s youth up to succeed across all areas of their life: employment, education and wellbeing. It’s our absolute pleasure when we get the opportunity to extend our reach to youth living in remote and regional communities,” Thurston explained.

“With the support of our corporate partners and invitations such as this from local councils, we are able to get into some of these communities and deliver programs which make a tangible difference to the lives of local kids and, as a result, the whole community benefits.

“The more we can encourage and support our young people to find a strong sense of self-belief, confidence, courage and purpose, the better prepared they will be to lead future generations. It is a small investment but a worthy one.”

JTBelieve Every Day Counts – Term 2 Winners

Winners Term 2- Eidsvold

The Johnathan Thurston Academy is very excited to announce the first cohort of winning classes as part of the JTBelieve Every day counts pilot delivered in partnership with the Department of Education.

Each participating school recognised one class for their Term 2 attendance performance. Every student from the winning classes will receive a JTBelieve Award letter, as well as a Certificate, personally signed by Johnathan Thurston.

A special mention to Baralaba State School who was the overall winner of the participating schools. Each student from their winning class will also receive a JT Academy pack consisting of a bag, cap, water bottle, postcard and notepad. 

“I would like to congratulate all the students, parents, carers and teachers from the winning classes for their ongoing commitment to their education,” Johnathan said. 

“To Baralaba State School a special shout out for leading all schools to be the major prize winner for Term 2”

“I hope everyone enjoys their upcoming holidays and we can’t wait to celebrate the Term 3 winners later in the year”

The winning classes were:

School Class
White Rock State School Class Prep B
Baralaba State School Class 1/02
Parramatta State School Class 3A
Balaclava State School Class 1A
Innisfail State School Class 5/6G
Mossman State School Class 6B
Eidsvold State School Class 3/04
Tagai State College – Thursday Island Class 6A
Tagai State College – Badu Island Class 4/5
Kuranda District State College Class 10A

 

Note –The JTBelieve Every day counts pilot is about supporting and encouraging students to believe in themselves and turn up – every day. The Every day counts campaign comprises animationand comic books. Have a look for JT himself, featured in The new adventures of Jimmy and Sam the Dog animation and comic book.

Read more here