That’s a wrap! The annual Sports & Storytelling Festival 2019 has come to a close this week as our volunteers and sponsoring organisations return home, and the Watarrka community is left with great memories and a new passion for education.

The festival ran from Wednesday 31st of July to Friday 2nd of August and included sports, drama, dancing, music, cooking and night time activities. This marks the 9th annual festival and has become a milestone for children within the region who look forward to the event all year.

This year, there were 35 children in attendance from 3 different local schools; Watarrka Primary School, Areyonga Primary School and Haasts Bluff School. The partnering organisations for our 2019 festival were Dentons, Westpac, Poetry in Action, CareerTrackers, The Source Bulk Foods, NTAFL, Remote Education tours and the Watarrka Foundation. 

It's COOL to go to SCHOOL!

The theme of this year’s Sports and Storytelling festival was “It’s COOL to go to SCHOOL!”. The festival has continued to pursue education at the forefront of their mission, following on from the work that the Watarrka Foundation has done through a range of projects to encourage the local
children to engage with their education.

Manny Bell, Advisory Group Member to the Watarrka Foundation stated:

"This year’s festival was a great success, and the messaging around attending school really landed with the kids. By the end of the festival they were inspired to continue their education into high school and beyond, as they had strong encouragement from volunteers and local community members. The schools were really appreciative of being able to connect their students and allow them to make new friendships through the festival.”

The festival activities included speeches from a range of individuals on why school attendance is important, and how it’s impacted their success. Speeches were given by local Indigenous business owners, Rangers, a Doctor, a Nurse, Kings Canyon Resort Managers, NT AFL representatives, Bankers, Lawyers, Tour Operators and a local Plumber. Each of these presenters discussed how a few more years continuing your education can unveil a range of opportunities for the Aboriginal children living in remote areas. 

2019 Highlights

After the opening of the second school classroom at Watarrka Primary School earlier this year, 2019 marked the first year where the festival has had more space to facilitate further activities within the new structure. The children from each of the three schools enjoyed using these new facilities throughout the festival.

Two words were used and encouraged throughout the festival; “Respect” and “Focus”. Children from all three schools were praised when showing respect and focus throughout the festival, and were seen displaying these attributes by listening well and cleaning the group dishes after meals without being asked. The positive motivation encouraged the children to be well behaved and take in all the information presented to them throughout the festival.

The 2019 Sports & Storytelling Festival was the first school excursion in 4 years for the children at Haasts Bluff School. The Festival provided a great opportunity for local employers and community members to connect with the three remote schools and children within the area. 

Plans for future Sports & Storytelling Festivals

As this year’s festival concludes, the children and community members are already excited and waiting for next year’s festival to commence. The plans for future festivals involves including more local schools so a wider range of children can experience the benefits and positive messaging.

Each festival will continue to support important healthy lifestyle messaging to the children and wider community. This involves not only focusing on education, but also healthy eating, regular physical activities and developing important friendships and connections within their local community to boost positive mental health.

To help us in continuing these festivals, make a donation to the Watarrka Foundation at


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