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During the October holidays this year, several year 10 students from Canberra Girls Grammar School took part in a volunteering opportunity with Embracing Ministries.

Embracing Ministries, an initiative of the Anglican Church of Canberra and Goulburn, aims to support families with youth and children affected by disabilities. Additionally, they aim to educate Christian people about the societal need for inclusion for such families, in particular inclusion in their parishes and Christian community groups.

The holiday program provided by Embracing Ministries aims to provide youth and children affected by disabilities unique and fun experiences, as well as exposing them to social contact outside of their school and family.

The CGGS School students volunteered as mentors for this program. This included running activities each day, looking after the children, but most of all being a mentor to the children, having fun with them and ensuring they had the best possible experience on the program. All the girls who volunteered as part of the program found it extremely rewarding and describe their individual experiences in the statements below.

‘I particularly enjoyed getting to know the children on the program and learnt about how important inclusiveness for all children was. Even though the program only lasted for a week, I can happily say that it was one of the most eye-opening experiences in my life – building a bond with a unique bunch of children who were each beautifully different in their own way.’ – Riya

‘The program highlighted that a person living with a disability is not defined by their disability, they are a human being with their own ideas and thoughts and, if people take the time to listen, these children could educate people around them and change society for the better.’ – Catherine

‘My time with the kids allowed me to apply my communication skills in ways I never have done before such as learning and using Auslan and a POD. Though this holiday program came with many challenges that I have not faced before, overall this experience allowed me to see the beauty that each child holds no matter their ability.’ – Sahaana

‘Words cannot justify how grateful I am for the opportunity to partake in such a wonderful form of service. It was certainly a week filled with memories I will cherish forever. Every child was so special in their own ways and it was incredible to have the opportunity to get to know them. Seeing the smiles when we were pushing kids on the swing, the dancing during the drumming workshop and the joy that filled the room when we were stomping on bubbles were just a few of the small moments that reminded me how truly lucky I was to have met these beautiful children.’ – Sophie

‘Every day volunteering with Embracing Ministries is a learning experience, whether it be getting to know one of the kids more closely, learning ASL, or learning to use a pod. As well as learning new things, we also had a lot of fun, whether it was pushing the kids on the swings or doing music together. While there were some bumps in the road occasionally, I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything, as it’s certainly one of the best I’ve ever had, and I can’t wait to help out again next year. I’m forever grateful to have spent this time with all these wonderful children, and hope that they got just as much out of it as I know I did.’ – Anneliese

by Reverend Jenny Willsher

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