Four diligent Palm Island students are the proud new owners of some unique pieces of Johnathan Thurston memorabilia after a special joint campaign between JT, the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys and Island community to improve school attendance in 2014.

Over the last two weeks, the NRL club and their co-captain linked with St Michael’s School and Bwgcolman Community School to help ensure that all children on the island were enrolled and attending school each day.

An ambassador for Queensland Reconciliation Awards, Thurston donated two of his own personally signed playing kits to each school and each child enrolling and attending each day received a ticket in a draw for the prizes.

The winners were Cameron Bulsey and La’Tesha Mills from St Michaels, and Latisha Daphne and Rass Robertson from Bwgcolman, plus every student who achieved their attendance target received a signed JT certificate.

Cowboys ambassador Dallas Johnson travelled to Palm Island to present the prizes and speak to students at both schools about how important it is to be at school each day.

Regional Director of Education, Training and Employment, Richard English, said: “It is very clear that student learning outcomes, particularly NAPLAN results, improve dramatically when students attend school regularly."

“In order to close the gap for Indigenous students’ results, every day of learning in every classroom is most important.

“Student learning outcomes improve as student attendance rates improve.

“The great thing about having Johnathan and the Cowboys involved is that they help to get the school attendance message to whole families and the community more broadly and not just the kids.

“This support from the Cowboys, and particularly Johnathan, links nicely with the employment of School Attendance Officers as part of the Federal Government’s new Remote School Attendance Strategy program.”