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Balaclava strives for kindness

Balaclava State School turned Cairns yellow to spread positivity and kindness as the school community continues to see the positive impacts of The Resilience Project and Try for 5! programs, delivered by the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys.

Former Cowboy Matt Bowen, armed with an apron and a pair of tongs, manned the ‘Big Breakfast’ barbecue for Strive to Be Kind Day at the school where students completed kindness activities and decorated their classroom doors.

While it provided an opportunity to show off all they’ve learned around gratitude, empathy and mindfulness, it was also an opportunity for club program staff to catch up with parents and carers and talk about the importance of getting their kids to school every day as part of the Try for 5! challenge.

Designed to address short and long-term impacts of students missing foundation learning in their primary years through poor school attendance, the Try for 5! challenge motivates and rewards individual classes and schools for their attendance record during the challenge period.

Balaclava State School is part of an inter-school challenge between 11 program schools, funded by the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA).

Matt said visiting schools involved in the program each term is an opportunity to see how students are tracking and reward them for their efforts.

“It was fantastic to get out to Balaclava State School to see how students are engaging in the Try for 5! challenge so they can get to school as much as possible and get stuck into their learning,” he said.

“The prep class put in a big effort to decorate a special Try for 5! box where each student contributes ‘tickets’ when they arrive at school each day, marking their progress.

“They’re doing so well they need a bigger box, and it’s great to see the school’s youngest students setting the example for the older kids.”

The trip to Balaclava also saw the Cowboys visit schools in Cooktown and Bloomfield River where the Try for 5! challenge is also making a difference to attendance rates.

Competition is heating up between schools in the challenge with Western Cape College in Mapoon currently seeing the biggest improvement in school attendance so far this year.

The Try for 5! challenge is structured to reinforce a positive school culture, communicate high expectations of attendance, and provide support where required.