New program delivers students cultural pride
SHEA Taylor is trying to keep a dying art alive by giving the indigenous children of St Anthony's Primary School a sense of cultural pride and identity.
Cultural lessons at St Anthony's school officially began last term with didgeridoo lessons on Tuesdays and traditional Aboriginal dance on Thursdays.
Shea said the program started as a trial to see if students would take interest.
"I volunteered to come in and teach the kids as a trial and they loved it so we thought we'd apply for funding," he said.
Michelle Conway, a teacher at St Anthony's who helped establish the program, assisted Shea in applying for funding.
"We applied for indigenous funding supported by Catholic Education," Michelle said.
"The funding was to support the continued incorporation of indigenous perspectives within the curriculum and Rockhampton Diocese."
Shea said when he started teaching, he received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from the teachers.
"I was being told how the lessons positively impacted kids in class," Shea said. "It's great to hear the benefits are not only here during the lessons but are flowing over to the classroom."
The school now has 25 boys taking didgeridoo lessons and 30 boys and girls participating in traditional dance classes.
Michelle said it was wonderful to see so many students grow and embrace their culture through the program. "We need more classes like this for kids so that they have a strong sense of culture," she said.
Shae said didgeridoo and traditional dance were worthwhile learning as they were both valuable skills to have.
"It builds the confidence of the children, particularly our Aboriginal boys, and it gives them a sense of pride and cultural identity," he said.
Shea hopes he can continue to teach at the school if funding is provided.
"We're looking at different avenues for funding at the moment which will help buy some of the pipes we practice with," he said. "If it comes to it we will put it to the parents to pay for the lessons and there are a lot of parents that are willing to do that as well."
Shea said the students had come so far since last term and he hoped he could continue to teach and keep this art alive through the younger generation.
The students perform at community events such as NAIDOC Week celebrations
Traditional Aboriginal law forbids females to touch or play the didgeridoo
To play the didgeridoo you need to be able to circular breathe, which means breathing in through your nose while you breathe out through your mouth