Many of them are too young to have seen him play, but when you mention to students at Garbutt State School that Matthew Bowen is on his way, that’s reason enough to turn up every day.
The former Cowboy this week ran outdoor activities as a reward for students at the school as part of the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys Try for 5! program, funded by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
The fun in the sun is encouragement for students to attend school every day of the week, something acting principal Jackie Guiney said is on an upward trend.
“When they found out that Matty was coming out to play with them, they’ve been asking is it today, is it today, is it today?” she said.
“It gets them excited about coming, it gets them excited about attendance and it gets them excited to know they’re special, and that somebody would take the time to come and see them.
“We make a really big deal about Try for 5! here at Garbutt, we’ve got some really great kids who always come, and we talk about how we can peer pressure the others into coming as well."
That peer influence is starting to pay off, too, as word spreads around the school about special prizes on offer for term 3 and term 4 attendance.
And with the pulling power of Cowboys visits and tailored videos for the students, they’re starting to realise coming to school can be a world of fun.
“We are (seeing positive results), and they’re engaged learners as well, they’re coming and they’re wanting to participate, they’re wanting to come to our parades each week and get their prizes,” Jackie said.
“What I like about it is the peer to peer, so they really are talking about coming to school because we’re doing this, we’re doing that.
“You’re always going to have some parents and kids who are harder to reach, but we definitely are making inroads and Try for 5! is a phrase that we use constantly that parents know really, really well.”
The Try for 5! Program motivates and rewards individual classes and schools for their attendance record during the challenge period and engages students and families using the club’s profile and ambassadors.
This term, participating schools have each received a fantastic Cowboys supporters pack to give away as a family attendance prize, with an exciting term 4 prize to be announced soon.