Trent reaps rewards of big-sky thinking

Life has come full circle for high school teacher Trent Lake.

Mr Lake was a graduate of a ground-breaking Indigenous health and education program run for high school students on the New South Wales Central Coast.

Now as a teacher at the Gorkoran High School, he’s involved with the 10-year old Ngura program as a teacher.

“I’m honoured to be involved with Ngura again, this time as a teacher, and seeing the changes it makes to the students involved,” Mr Lake said.

“I have to admit, if it wasn’t for the program 10 years ago, I don’t think I would be teaching today.”

This week the Ngura program will get an international audience at a conference in Canada.

Central Coast Councils Indigenous Community Development Worker Matt Sonter will present the program at the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education in Toronto, which attracts Indigenous education experts, practitioners and scholars.

Health, nutrition, leadership, self-image and goals are central to the program, which also celebrates Indigenous culture and heritage.

At the end of the program, the students receive certificates in Aboriginal history and sport and recreation as well as their bronze medallion for swimming.

Council Group Leader Connected Communities Julie Vaughan said the program was good for the students and the community.

In 2009 it was recognised by the United Nations in the Kinnie Chase Awards for Health and Education and similar programs were picked up by other first nations communities in America and Canada.

Mr Lake said the program gave him confidence and taught him about responsibility.

“It also gave me an understanding of what goals are and how to set them — they aren’t served on a platter, you need to work hard and make sacrifices to achieve them,” he said.

“I had my heart set on a sporting career and through the program I learnt how to focus on the future through education, which opened up a number of opportunities for me. I was offered scholarships to help further my education and sporting career.

“Ten years on I’m a qualified teacher. I went out and learnt what I needed to, but I was always coming back to where it all started to give back to my community.”

Wendy Caccetta

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