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“Giving is the master key to success, in all applications of human life.”

– Author, activist and social entrepreneur, Bryant McGill –

Learning and Developing Skills for Life

For our SLES (School Leaver Employment Support) Program trainees, giving means so much more than the passing on of material possessions. For trainees, it’s about creating, learning, empathising and understanding. It’s about bringing joy to the lives of others and cherishing the skills that they have developed and the social bonds they have created.

Just before Christmas, our Marrickville SLES trainees came up with a Service Learning Project, which is a project that gives back to the community.

Trainee Inspired Project

Their project centred on spreading Christmas cheer to the residents of the Marrickville Nursing Home. Trainees have visited the nursing home before and developed rapport with the residents. They realise that for some at the nursing home, Christmas could be a lonely time of year, so bringing something special, just for the residents, could also bring joy.

So trainees decided to not only give back to residents, but also give back to the environment by making presents for residents using recycled materials.

Throughout the year trainees have learnt about the environment in the workplace and have been collecting plastic bottles to take to the recycling centre to exchange for money.

With the money that they have collected throughout the year, trainees visited Reverse Garbage in Marrickville to purchase craft materials to turn it into presents for the nursing home residents.

Trainees browsed many boxes and containers to find just what they were looking for to make truly unusual and beautiful gifts.

The Gift of Giving

Our three trainees worked hard decorating baubles, painting, crafting, gluing and bending to make Christmas gifts and cards for all 43 residents of the nursing home.

During their previous visit to the nursing home, trainees were still a little shy, but during their latest visit – carrying gifts in hand – they were very keen to interact with the residents and talk to them about what they had made.

Margot, the Manager of the nursing home, commented that she was very surprised to see the difference in the trainees’ level of interaction in comparison to the first visit a few months prior. Their effort was visible with all the smiles from the residents!

Social Skills Development

Trainees’ social and communication skills have dramatically progressed over the years and it is lovely to see that they have a new found confidence in their skills and feel comfortable engaging with the wider community.

“I feel very happy seeing all of them (residents) smiling” – Jason, SLES Trainee.

Freya said, “I think I improved heaps this time around” and proceeded to give everyone high fives! Freya even received a hand knitted hair tie from one of the nursing home residents.

Learning More From Being Out of the Training Room

Learning in the training room is one aspect of the SLES Program, but for the trainees to actually experience and feel what empathy is all about, is a whole new level of learning.