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St Mary’s Anglican Girls’ School

St Mary’s Approaching
Fundraising Milestone

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St Mary’s Anglican Girls’ School is closing in on raising $100,000 for Anglicare WA’s Street Connect Program thanks to the vision of a passionate staff member and the dedication of a charitable cohort.

When Mr Ian Thompson assumed his role as Head of Year 10 in 2010, it was obvious to him that the students were committed fundraisers who were eager to lend their time and money to a myriad of worthy causes.

However, he identified a gap in their philanthropic endeavours.

“I noticed that the girls were doing a lot of meaningful fundraising, but it was a bit here and there. I thought it was important for them to have something to focus their fundraising on. I also recognised that although we were an Anglican school, we didn’t have a fundraiser in place to support Anglicare WA,” Mr Thompson said.
“I found out about Anglicare WA’s Street Connect program, which seeks to help homeless youths aged 15 to 25. Given that our Year 10 girls are 15, there was a connection there.”

It would have been easy for the students to simply donate to the worthy cause, but Mr Thompson thought they would better understand the plight of the people they were helping – and gain a greater appreciation for the good work that the Street Connect team does – by experiencing what a night on the streets might be like.

Hence, St Mary’s annual Year 10 Sleepout began.

“In 2012, we had our first sleepout on campus. Sixty-four girls attended that first sleepout under the Senior School Library. The sleepout grew rapidly from 64 girls in the first year to almost the entire cohort participating just two years later. Now, it is truly part of our Year 10 cohort’s culture and identity,” Mr Thompson said.

Every sleepout begins with a presentation from Anglicare WA’s Street Connect team and a tour of the Street Connect Bus, which is stocked with information on services and referral resources, and provides food and useful items, including freshly made sandwiches, water, pregnancy tests, condoms, first aid kits, hygiene packs and sleeping bags.

The girls then have soup and a bread roll, to replicate getting a meal from a soup kitchen, before sleeping outside on sheets of cardboard in their sleeping bags, usually on the school’s tennis courts.

“They get to understand the reality of what some people go through,” Mr Thompson said.
“In the morning, they acknowledge that it was an uncomfortable night – but it’s only one night in their lives. I tell them, "imagine doing that every night".
“One of the terrible things that happen to young people is when circumstances rip away their hope. I think that when you take away someone’s hope it cripples them. Anglicare WA’s Street Connect team gives these people their hope back.
“For a single school, and more specifically a single year group, to raise close to $100,000 for one charity, I think that’s magic. It’s an incredible thing that has grown beyond my hopes and expectations.”

St Mary's Anglican Girls' School

St Mary's Anglican Girls' School is an independent day and boarding school for students from Kindergarten to Year 12.

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