Thurston inspires students
INDIGENOUS All Stars captain Johnathan Thurston visited Rockhampton yesterday to promote the FOGS 'ARTIE' program.
Thurston lectured high school students on the importance of staying in school and achieving their best.
Speaking at the Aboriginal Dreamtime Cultural Centre, Thurston spoke about the commitment and drive they would need to achieve their goals.
"The FOGS ARTIE Program aims to achieve results through indigenous education, aiming to drive home the message of improving efforts and grades of students," he said, adding that he hoped to continue the legacy of ambassador Arthur Beetson, who died in December.
Beetson, a rugby league immortal, was a role model for all indigenous youth - including the North Queensland Cowboys playmaker.
Playing an active role in community work with the youth, Beetson was honoured at yesterday's launch of the Indigenous program.
ARTIE not only resembles the great man's name but also the aim of the program - Achieving Results Through Indigenous Education.
Thurston, like he has for the Cowboys, Maroons and Kangaroos, is now leading from the front, working with Steve Walters to motivate students to lift their performance at school and achieve their goals.
"I have been in their shoes before," Thurston said.
"I was certainly not a bright spark at school but I know the importance of a school education.
"It is truly a great program and I am just proud to be involved with it."
Thurston encouraged the students to make the most of the specialised "coaching" available to them at school with homework clubs and through their teachers.
"I think it helps, obviously, having a small reward for them at the end of their schooling terms if they achieve their goals but this is more about getting the message across," he said.
"If they can achieve their goals and everything, they will pave their way to better lives."
To help ensure the students remain focused on their targets, Thurston explained the similarity between what NRL stars deal with everyday at training and students working with their school coaches.
"I have certainly worked hard to get to where I am today, but I had a lot of setbacks as well, out of high school, but I kept persevering and look where I am today," he said.
"The challenges I have faced are similar to those students face with homework and their interaction with teachers."
Thurston said he enjoyed fostering his indigenous pride and had recently taken the time to learn more about his history and heritage as an Aboriginal.
The international rugby league star said he looked forward to further promoting the FOGS ARTIE Program, and would hopefully return to Central Queensland at the end of the 2012 season.