Students from the Youth Off the Streets program are paying it forward by raising money for drought affected farmers by auctioning a mural they have created as part of The Archibull Prize. The students are from The Lakes College, an alternative high school on the central coast of NSW, and in conjunction with Losty and Mercy College, have chosen to support the rural initiatives of Aussie Farmers Foundation.
“The kids have been really impacted by their learning across all the topics to do with the Archie – healthy communities, climate change, food security etc. – and they’ve started seeing the connections between each of those different areas,” The Lakes College teacher Amy Gill said. “They felt a profound sense of empathy with some of the struggles farmers experience but they also saw the farmers as being really courageous and they wanted to help by acknowledging that courage.”
By working with an artist who uses spray art, or graffiti walls, to help and assist the community rather than harm, the students created a 2.4m high mural depicting an Akubra-clad farmer standing on the red soils of his farm. The mural is currently up for auction with generous support from allbids.com.au, and bids can be placed here, until 8pm on October 3. Above the farmer is a blank thought bubble, allowing the potential owner to add their own unique stamp to the design. The students have also created a video to accompany the artwork, describing how they feel about farmers and why it is important to support them. The video can be viewed here.
“The kids see a lot in the media about the drought at the moment but being a charity ourselves we realised that sometimes people want to give but they don’t ask us what we need,” Amy said. “Aussie Farmers Foundation supports the community through grants, which means that the community itself has a voice in where the money goes and what programs would best support them. Aussie Farmers supports education and mental health programs and my kids they saw that as something that aligned with our values.”
The Archibull Prize is a project based learning (PBL) competition that uses creative arts and multimedia to engage students and their communities with Australian farmers and agriculture. This method of teaching has been a resounding success at The Lakes College. “We can do maths and we can do science but at the end of the day it doesn’t have that real-world connection or value that education should,” Amy said. “A project like this has that real-world and human connection and is an opportunity for the kids to have a voice and an audience; and that’s why I think it has been so meaningful. They’ve never had their work hung on a wall anywhere before and they take such an absolute pride in this.”