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Holiday fun for Atherton Gardens kids

More than 120 children of refugee background converged on Australian Catholic University’s (ACU) Melbourne Campus recently for a fun-packed day of holiday activities.

Atherton GardensAiysha takes a break from the holiday program fun. Photo: Sara Coen.

A dedicated team of ACU and REACH volunteers facilitated the program – running activities from face-painting and games, to art, craft, music and dancing.

The holiday program is an extension of the Atherton Gardens Homework Support Program and the Richmond Tutoring Program - where volunteers, including ACU Bachelor of Education students, regularly tutor primary school students from refugee backgrounds.

Many of the parents and neighbours from Atherton Gardens and Richmond Tutoring Program joined the day’s festivities, which was not only fun for the children, but served to strengthen the mutually beneficial relationship between partners.

The holiday program is now in its second year, and is an initiative of the University’s Institute for Advancing Community Engagement (IACE).

Mary Campbell, Relations Coordinator for IACE, said attendance had doubled compared to last year’s event, which reflected the growing partnership between ACU and the Atherton Gardens community.

“Initiatives like the holiday support program play a key role in breaking the cycles of disadvantage, and raising educational aspiration,” she said.

“Most students are from a refugee background and originate from the Horn of Africa region, and many have a history of disrupted schooling.

“It is my hope that the program will foster a perception of university as a friendly and welcoming place, and help these children realise that higher education is within their reach.”

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