Social justice immersion is an opportunity for high school students to get out into the community and push the boundaries of their world by immersing themselves into the landscapes and lives of individuals that may not fit their world, their background and their opportunities and possibilities in life. It is a wonderful leveller, a chance to remove privilege, luck, timing and history and simply be in the here and now of the reality of other people, be it for better or worse. Today I had the chance to immerse in some social immersion experience at the end of a days filming at the wonderful Wayside Chapel in Sydney’s Kings Cross.
And there is nothing better when my favourite ingredient…RANDOM is thrown into the recipe. Packing up after filming a story on the Wayside Chapel and its rooftop garden I came across a group of students from Taree on the mid North Coast of NSW. The students of St Clare’s High School have been in Sydney for their social justice immersion program. So far in the space of a few days they have worked on the ‘night patrol’helping homeless youth and adults on the streets of the city, they have worked and served at some soup kitchens for the disadvantaged and even spent time labouring in the market garden at Cana Farm in Sydney’s West which runs TAFE outreach programs for the disdvantaged, former drug addicts and recently arrived immigrants.
It was a treat to be able to drop in on the students and have a brief chat about their week and learn a little more about the program and its impact on them, as they learnt about what the Wayside has been doing for more than 50 years now. Wayside Chapel celebrated its 50th birthday last weekend, something that would bring a great smile to its iconic founder the Rev Tedd Noffs.
I had the pleasure of spending time with Progam Manager Wendy who gave me the facts and figures behind the 50 years to today.
To the 600 volunteers along with the staff and supporters of the Wayside it is great to see the engagement and integration that you are all a part of achieving for so many years. This adaptability to the needs of different people in different chapters of life and time is a credit to each and every one of you.
If you are ever in Kings Cross, drop on in for a cuppa at the cafe, or a selection from the most affordable menu in town, and in the process support the long term pulse of this priceless community asset. Everyone is welcome and will be welcomed by everyone from the 2000 visitors a week that use the centre to the staff and volunteers. And who knows, you may get the urge to contribute a 3 hour volunteer shift once a quarter, once a month , once a year …whatever. Drop in and say hello to someone you dont know…youll be surprised at how valuable a contribution this is to someone and their life.
And to the students from Taree, it was great to meet you all today. As I mentioned at the time: remember to compost reality regularly so that you can nurture the fruits and vegies of change from the subsequent humus that the seeds of new perspective will land in…That anology certainly flourished in the moment together….
Wayside celebrated its 50th birthday last weekend with a huge birthday party and street closure festival.Supporters, volunteers,vistors from past and present all turned up to recognise this wonderful community service and asset. Indira Naidoo who is involved with the community rooftop garden along with local businesses and local and state representatives were all a part of the day of recognition.