Nyirrpi kids skate the white magic

By Alison Kinkade

Fourteen kids from Nyirrpi School in the Northern Territory took to the ice on Monday, October 11 at The Medibank Icehouse as part a tour around Melbourne.

Rychelle Vines, a teacher from Rosebud Secondary College, brought the teenagers who live in an indigenous community 450km north of Alice Springs, to Melbourne as part of an educational program.

The kids, who had never seen an ice rink, enjoyed a skate on what they call “white magic” and the Icehouse donated socks to the children so that they could skate.

Ms Vines, who used to teach in remote communities before moving to Rosebud, started an organisation called Cross Country Education that aims to unite children from remote communities with those in the city.

“I worked as a tour guide and later worked in a remote community and I really saw the need for this type of education,” she said.

Ms Vines, who said she also wanted to remain involved with remote communities whilst being able to live in Melbourne, came up with the tour idea 18 months ago and began to organise the trip in April.

“There were a few hurdles we had to overcome but we got there and also managed to raise $9000 worth of funds through organisations like Rotary and mining companies and other businesses, which allowed us to bring the kids over.”

The children were accompanied by two Nyirrpi teachers, Wendy Jones and Jim Quilford, and two carers who also helped out with translation, as English is not the children’s first language.

“Right from the very beginning it’s been an exciting trip for the kids. Many of them had never flown on a plane and it was very funny to see them jump on the plane and sit in first class just because they were the first available seats,” Ms Jones said.

Mr Quilford said the trip would also allow them to teach the kids about nutrition and personal hygiene and had been a good way of getting the children to attend school.

“Attendance rates in Nyirrpi are only about 50 per cent. So we said the children with the best attendance and behaviour would be able to go,” Mr Quilford said.

The children stayed in Melbourne for 12 days and visited sights such as Luna Park, the aquarium, the zoo, Eureka Sky Deck and the Great Ocean Rd, as well as Ms Vines’ school.

“The kids will be going horse riding and will visit the MCG and National Gallery and will also have the opportunity to try four different types of cuisine,” Ms vines said.

Ms Vines is also in the process of setting up a website so that the children from Nyirrpi school and Rosebud Secondary School can stay in contact.

“They’ve been writing letters and really educating each other on one another’s culture so it’s been great and the website will just provide and extra tool,” she said.

Ms Vines is next year looking at running camps for the remote communities located at the four compass points of Australia.