Source: New South Wales Department of Education and Communities
When Kim Ly was driving her children Katie and Brandon home from school earlier this week they wondered aloud why the sky was full of smoke.
“I told them about the fires and when we got home showed them some pictures of what the firefighters were going through,” Mrs Ly said.
“They were really concerned so I suggested they should do something to help.”
The siblings from Bankstown West Public School brainstormed some ideas and hit upon a fundraiser to help the volunteer firefighters – who they told their mum were real-life superheroes.
Katie and her brother, who are in Kindergarten and Year 1 respectively, wrote to school principal Nicole Benson asking if the school could raise money for the NSW Rural Fire Service and those affected by the fire.
“Me and Brandon think we should do a mufti day where we wear superhero costumes because the firefighters are the superheroes during the bushfires,” Katie wrote. “We can call it ‘Help our Heroes Day’.”
The school has responded to the students’ request and will hold a fundraising mufti day on November 26 with students asked to dress as a superhero – whether that be a cartoon version or a real-life example such as the firefighters.
“Katie and Brandon are thrilled we have taken up their idea,” Mrs Benson said. “While the little ones don’t understand the magnitude of the fires, we talk to our students about volunteering and how they can give back to community.
“It is all tied into creating a culture of working together, being kind, being compassionate and being thoughtful.”
Mrs Ly said her children were very excited that they had inspired the fundraiser and she congratulated the school on listening to their smallest students.
“I think it is really important to show them that even though they are really young, if they stand up their voice can make a difference,” Mrs Ly said.
“It ties in with what the school is already teaching them, that you are never too young to be vocal about what concerns you.”
Uniform response to disaster
Closer to the fires in northern NSW, Grafton students are already reaching out to help those affected by the disaster.
Grafton High School’s Student Representative Council arranged today for schools with a total of more than 3,700 students to hold a gold-coin mufti day.
The Grafton schools network Director Meghanne Wellard said she was delighted but not surprised at the students’ initiative, which involved at least 15 schools and raised $7,000 for the local Rural Fire Service.
“This is a clear reflection of the strength of school communities in the Clarence,” said Ms Wellard.
“Nearly all our students will have been affected by, or know someone close to them who has been affected by the fires.
“The desire to help in a tough situation can’t be suppressed, and the Grafton High SRC have given students and their families a great opportunity to demonstrate their care and support for those who’ve been hit hardest.”
Resources and advice for parents about the impact of the bushfires on children can be found on the school safety webpage.
The Rural Fire Service has advised that people wanting to donate money can consider these appeals: