Few people in his circle know that Noosa & District High School Chaplain, Shane Brigg, is a qualified environmental scientist. Yet, even as an undergraduate, he was looking at our natural landscapes through a social sphere, and linking his science to people.
When I meet him at the Cooroy campus it is evident Shane is a “people person”. So it is no surprise that his early science career was eventually side-lined in favour of social work and, initially, developing youth programs for his alma mater. Shane’s ability to connect with, and help, young people has subsequently been a consistent thread in his life, both as a proud father of two children, and as a career chaplain.
For the past four years Noosa & District High School students have been the beneficiaries of Shane’s cumulative experience. It is here that Shane has championed projects that are designed to help young people blossom. If you’re a participant, being a young leader is ‘in’ and dropping out of school is, well, ‘out’.
As a new school year begins, Shane is looking forward to bringing together a new cohort of students with community volunteers. He sees his role as enabling teamwork and being “a conduit to amazing giving people in the Noosa community who are prepared to lend their time and invest in our young people”.
The community engagement and capacity building aspects of the chaplaincy projects have several facets, including the hosting of “whole-of-school” breakfasts each week – at both Pomona and Cooroy campuses. These are well supported by volunteers from the Pomona Lions Club and local church groups. It’s not just nourishing food that is served up, but friendship and community connections too.
Formal student mentoring by community volunteers is also hugely valued. Other projects offer peer (“buddy”) support. There is the girls’ ‘GIFT’ project, which fosters resilience, self-worth, good health and relationships. The boys’ ‘HELP’ project has a focus on honouring, encouraging, lifting and protecting.
In Shane’s words, “it helps boys transition into responsible young men”.
For some of the graduates of these projects, the experience has been transformative. There were those who had been earmarked as likely high school drop-outs, but were willingly embraced by the chaplaincy program and have gone on to become more than capable university students.
Shane sees them now having the same opportunities he has, having recently completed his own Master’s degree. The school chaplaincy program has a motto of “bringing hope to a young generation”. It is clear that ‘Chappy’ Shane has brought that, and more, into the life of this local school.
You can support the School Chaplaincy program by donating via www.suqld.org.au.
All donations are tax deductible and you can direct your donation to the school and/or projectof your choice by following the relevant link.