This Friday, 22nd November, 218 students from 13 primary schools across Canberra will come together at Australian Catholic University for the biggest Mini Vinnies Social Justice Day to date.
“Social Justice Days are designed to engage our primary-school aged kids in various aspects of social justice,” said John Feint, President of the St Vincent de Paul Society Canberra/Goulburn.
“We held our first Social Justice Day in 2015 with 154 students attending, and the success of the day has grown from there.
“This year, we will have representatives from many Vinnies services, such as our shops, Night Patrol, Family Services and Street to Home, so students can learn about multiple avenues to addressing poverty and injustice. Students will then be challenged to consider how they can become engaged, and help, on a personal level,” he said.
The majority of schools attending the event have had engagement with Vinnies throughout the year, such as volunteering with the Doorknock Appeal, collecting food and toys for the Christmas Appeal or hosting School Sleepouts.
“The goal of the event is for students to learn more about social justice, and ways they can help in their local communities, perhaps even starting up a Mini Vinnies group at their school. It is also an opportunity for them to mix with other students across the district,” said Mr Feint.
“Mini Vinnies empowers primary school students to become advocates within their school and local community by putting their values into action. It is also about young people meeting to talk, share ideas and concerns, to have fun and support each other.
“They meet regularly to learn about social justice issues, develop leadership skills and engage with the wider St Vincent de Paul Society. Not only do the students in Mini Vinnies benefit from the experience but also the school and wider community,” he said.
“Good Shepherd has had a Mini Vinnies group for many years and it has become part of our heart and soul. Each term we raise money and awareness for those in our Canberra and Gungahlin communities who are doing it tough.
“Each year we hold a Sleepout for Years 4-6, a Winter Woollies day to donate clothes and blankets to the homeless and towards the end of the year, donate Christmas hampers. Our staff have recently formed a Night Patrol team that go out each month to help those who need a helping hand,” said Anthony O’Connell, Religious Education Coordinator, Good Shepherd Primary School.
“It has been a joy to see the enthusiasm and sense of community that comes from the students who are involved in this group,” said Sonja Mingay, School Chaplain, St Thomas More’s Catholic Primary School.
“The motto of Mini Vinnies is See, Think, Do and this simple message encourages the children to be proactive about helping people. We talk about helping people at local, national and international levels. I think Mini Vinnies is brilliant for helping children to take a wider view of the world around them and to have a sense of responsibility for caring for it,” she said.
“The Mini Vinnies Social Justice Day is an excellent way to reward the children for their dedication to Mini Vinnies throughout the year. They love the interaction with children from other schools and it helps them appreciate they are part of something special and bigger than them,” she added.
Sophie, a Year 6 student from St Thomas More’s School, said, “I think it’s important that people who aren’t as fortunate as us get looked after and loved. I wanted to help with this and Mini Vinnies was a way to do that.
“I’m looking forward to the Social Justice Day because I think it will be a good way to see and meet people who put lots of effort into helping people. I hope it inspires us to do the same and gives us ideas on how to help more.”
Lachlan from Year 4 added, “I’m looking forward to hearing about what some people do to help and find out more on how poor people live and how we can help them.”
21 November 2019