A joint partnership between Wagga Wagga City Council and Play NRL South West has once again delivered an empowering collision of sport and First Nations Culture in the heart of the CBD.
The Walanmarra Gundyarri School Cultural Day – now in its third year – is a holistic event designed to foster an inclusive environment, where pupils can engage in activities encouraging respect and recognition of the world’s oldest continuous living culture.
Wiradjuri Elder Uncle James Ingram attended the day to share his expertise and knowledge of Indigenous artefacts with the next generation.
“We’re teaching the kids about the different types of rocks, the different tools and implements you can find in the bush, their uses and their different names,” Uncle James said.
“Hopefully next time, when they find something out in Country, they’ll know what it is. We’re also teaching respect, helping the kids understand why it’s important to leave these things where they are found.
“It’s about exploring young minds and watching the light bulb go off as they finally get that beautiful ‘ahh’ moment.”
Girls at the Centre staff, alongside artist Sarah Levett, demonstrated Aboriginal painting techniques and artistic expression used by First Nations People for centuries.
It was one of the five diverse stations engaging participants in cultural activities.
“We’ve also got a bush medicine station that’s giving kids a chance to compare our medicines from today to traditional healing methods and treatments,” Council’s Aboriginal Business Support Officer Madison Fisher said.
Steven O’Neill from Relationships Australia also presented traditional Aboriginal games, which were a huge hit with the young participants along with the language station run by Aunty Gail Manderson where kids learnt Wiradjuri words and their meaning.
“It’s an opportunity to highlight and celebrate the unique relationship between our First Nations Peoples and the sport of rugby league,” Game Development Officer Simon Vanzanten said.
“We’re so happy to see over 500 kids here today, embracing the cultural activities and rugby league stations.”
Kooringal High School students happily volunteered their time to assist at the event, helping facilitate three different, skill-based games with enthusiastic youngsters.
“The rugby league games are all about enhancing motor skills, encouraging physical activity and promoting our after-school program – League Stars,” Mr Vanzanten said.
Red Hill Public School captains, Elizabeth Niki and Kakala Uoifalehahi, were proud to be part of an 11-strong contingent representing their school at the event for a second year.
“It’s been such a great experience… just being able to get involved in the community,” Kakala said.
A footy fan, Elizabeth was relishing the chance to development new skills, while Kakala enjoyed the opportunity to have a hand in creating a stunning dot painting for her school.
“I’ll be really proud to take it back and show everyone what we achieved,” she said.