Sunshine Coast Lightning has finished its Chancellor College First Nations Local Leaders Program, completing five sessions that encouraged the students to build confidence through engaging in small group activities including art, exercise and education.

In partnership with Confident Girls Foundation, the holistic program was developed to give students the opportunity to be exposed to the high-performance environment, as well as interacting and connecting with Lightning players and staff including Lightning’s CEO, Danielle Smith.

The first session was hosted by Elder, Aunty Judi at the school, who spoke with players and students about family history and research on exemption certifications.

Session two was a creative painting session joined by Elder, Aunty Kaylene, where the students worked together to create two flags that were displayed at the Guard of Honour for the upcoming match against the Collingwood Magpies during Indigenous Round.

The kids and players got active in session three, participating in some fun games and activities at USC stadium, while session four was a Q&A with the athletes who spoke about challenges and hardships they’ve experienced in life — making them the resilient people they are today.

The fifth and final session included a visit from Karyn Baker from USC, who spoke about the opportunities for First Nations students at USC. They also reflected on their experiences throughout the program, with one student saying it was her “favourite thing she’s done in high school so far”.

Laura Scherian, who participated in multiple sessions, said the program was an incredible experience for all involved.

“The Confident Girls Foundation Program this year was about engaging with local Indigenous students from Chancellor College, just around the corner. We did a range of activities with the students and it was great to see them develop and come out of their shell along the way,” she said.

“As players we learnt so much as well and really enjoyed the experience.”

Scherian reflected on the sessions spent hearing from Indigenous Elders as part of the Program.

“Hearing from the Indigenous Elders was a really special experience for me. I’ve learnt a lot about Indigenous culture — specifically to here on the Sunshine Coast,” she said.

“This Program is really important for Lightning to get out into the community. The students were so amazing, they really engaged with everything and came out of their shell along the way.

“Right up until the last session they were asking if they could come back and have more next term. It was really special as it was just a really small group of students and we really got to know them.”

Without the Confident Girls Foundation this Program would not be possible. For more information on the incredible work they do, visit https://confidentgirlsfoundation.com.au/.

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