Community stories: 7 February 2024
In the Victorian dairy region of Gippsland, a small primary school identified challenges with the gender imbalance at their school and came up with an idea they felt could address the matter and improve the learning outcomes of their students.
Welshpool and District Primary School applied for a Gardiner Foundation Community Grant in 2022. At that time, they had 32 enrolled students, seven of which were girls (22%) and 25 (78%) boys. Recognising the need to support the girls in their school and promote connection and empowerment, the community secured a $5,000 grant. This grant allowed the school to further invest in their science program, via the ‘IncrediGirls’ program, with a focus on the girls within their school.
The ‘IncrediGirls’ program delivered science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) activities to the girls in the school. The participants were then encouraged to share the same experiences with other students in their class, with the support from their teachers. The program also featured guest speakers from the community, fostering connections beyond the school. Activities encompassed a variety of events such as RUOK day, shop visits, STEM-focussed sessions, Kinder transition books, LEGO build days (as shown in the image), and more.
This project aligned with FRRR’s Gardiner Foundation Community Grants program objective of ‘Providing Lifelong Education and Training’ via projects that provide locals with access to opportunities that enrich their learning and skills development. The implementation of the ‘IncrediGirls’ program at Welshpool and District Primary School created opportunities for students to develop an interest and passion for STEM skills. Additionally, it indirectly fostered teamwork, connection and leadership opportunities.
Gabrielle Boyd, the principal of Welshpool and District Primary School expressed gratitude from the school and the students for the grant.
“This has been such a fantastic grant opportunity for our school. The students were very excited to know they had been selected to receive the grant and the ‘IncrediGirls’ loved being involved in the spending of the funds as well.”
She continued saying, “The program has contributed to improvements in self-esteem, teamwork, friendships, connections and has broadened students’ perspectives globally, shifting the focus beyond themselves. This has, in turn, enhanced community life in this small, outer regional community.
“Our school is very proud that the ‘IncrediGirls’ program is not only thriving within our school but, thanks to the positive outcomes, is also expanding to other schools in the region.”