The Watarrka Foundation is proud to be a part of the upcoming annual Sports and Storytelling Festival. Running from the 29th to the 31st of August, the festival is expected to be the biggest to date involving approximately 40 children from remote communities as well their teachers, community elders and volunteers from various sponsoring organisations.
The main organisations powering this year’s event are Dentons, Westpac, Poetry in Action, The Watarrka Foundation, Remote Tours and NT AFL.
The Sports and Storytelling Festival will be held at the Watarrka School in Lilla near Kings Canyon and will have participants traveling from the Finke School in Finke River, and the Utju Areyonga School, both regional primary schools based in the NT. The groups will be welcomed to the Watarrka community with a traditional smoke ceremony, held by community elders and children. Over the course of the three days there will be a mixture of traditional and modern sporting games including round robin events, friendly competitions and opportunities to use the Watarrka Foundation “Fat Bikes”.
The children will take part in sing-a-longs and give drama performances. This year, students from the Watarrka School have been working hard preparing a play called “How The Emu Lost It’s Wings”. Curly Fernandez, Founder of Poetry In Action said:
“Our aim was through drama, to give our students many varying skills that would give them confidence and that support them in their future pathways. We are now very excited and proud to be performing a play using a traditional story, written by family.”
The festival aims to bring together distant communities, generate excitement around education and promote good health habits. This is in line with the aims of the Watarrka Foundation. For many of the children, this is their first excursion and it is exciting for them to meet other children that speak their language. The distances between schools is so vast that the children rarely have a chance to meet.
An important outcome of the festival is to make the children from these regional communities excited about education. Making learning fun helps to encourage children to want to come to school and continue their education. The drama performances also give the children a chance to practice empathy, communicating in english, presenting to a group, self public expression, performing to peers, maintaining eye contact, claiming attention and having an audience. All of these activities help to build skills that are useful when applying for apprenticeships and jumping into the future workforce.
Lastly, the promotion of good health habits through sport and exercise is a key outcome.
The Sports and Storytelling Festival is a significant event on the Watarrka Foundation calendar. One of the main aims of The Foundation is to promote the health and education of children in remote communities, and the Festival helps to inspire the children to want to attend school and adopt healthy eating and exercise habits. Manny Bell, Advisory Group member at the Watarrka Foundation said:
"The Watarrka School at Lilla is one of the best performing primary schools in the Northern Territory for numeracy and literacy. The Sports and Storytelling Festival encourages the school children to continue their incredible efforts to date and to stay engaged with their schoolwork and local community."