FCAC students: sharing the dignity

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Fraser Coast Anglican College Year 10 students collected much-needed sanitary products for women sleeping rough in ‘Share the Dignity Month’

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Did you know that on any given night in Australia, 1 in 200 people are homeless and 44 per cent are female? Did you also know family violence is the number one reason women present to homeless services?

Think for a moment about being a woman and being homeless. What would that look like? Maybe having to sleep in your car or in the park, or even in back alleyways trying to get warm and scavenge for food.

Being homeless makes it hard to hold down a job or get a job. How do you shower, wash your hair and have presentable clothes? Now imagine having to make a choice between buying sanitary products or buying food. For thousands of women that is the choice they must make every month, and food usually wins.

This is where the idea for women’s charity organisation Share the Dignity started. In March 2015, community member Rochelle Courtenay asked her friends to help her collect pads and tampons to help local women sleeping rough in her area of Brisbane.

That first small collection led to the birth of Share the Dignity, which is now Australia wide with two major collections of sanitary products held annually, including in August during ‘Share the Dignity’ month.

So what does this have to do with Fraser Coast Anglican College? In Religious and Values Education (RAVE) students have been challenged to come up with ideas to ‘make a difference’ in the lives of other people.

RAVE teacher Mrs Lana Prebbinow said that it was the College’s Year 10 students who chose to support this particular charity.

“Year 10 as a group decided to support Share the Dignity and donate sanitary products to help homeless women, so in our tutor classrooms we had colourful collections bins so students could make donations,” Mrs Prebbinow said.

On Monday 26 August, Shayle Schirmer from ‘Share the Dignity’ visited the College to collect the sanitary items the Year 10 cohort collectively donated for the project and to speak to the group about the charity organisation and challenges faced by the women they help.

Following Ms Schirmer’s visit, Year 10 student Jack Scanlan said that sanitary items are practical necessities that are often taken for granted, expressing concern for the thousands of women sleeping rough who cannot afford such products.

“Share the Dignity helps address a problem that is unknown in the community, as we all think of giving food, money, or our prayers for the homeless, but we don’t think of the problem women face every month,” Jack said.

As well as supporting Share the Dignity, all Year 10 students are working on their own individual Make a Difference Project as part of the College’s Leadership Program for Senior School.

Some of the projects students are working on include Relay for Life, fundraising for Dolly’s Dream, Buying a Bale for Farmers, helping Syrian refugees, making Trauma Teddies and supporting Operation Christmas Child.

Helping others is part of Fraser Coast Anglican College’s holistic approach to educating students.

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