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Creating opportunities for vulnerable students.

The driving force behind an alternative educational program in the Central West is the belief that every boy deserves the opportunity to become a good man.

Recognising that school isn’t necessarily for everyone, Boys to the Bush delivers a range of early intervention programs designed to give youth educational opportunities that go beyond the traditional classroom setting.

Boys to the Bush Area Manager Western NSW, Jared DeMamiel, said the Schools Program is helping to address education gaps that will have a positive ripple effect on social inclusion, community resilience, generational disadvantage as well as regional economies in the long-term.

Boys to the Bush participants standing together

“A lot of the boys we work with have experienced a range of early and ongoing traumas. In many cases schoolwork is the last thing on their minds and they’re prone to disengaging from the education system,” Jared said.

“Our programs establish good introductions for kids to good people in their community. We do this through visits to farms, local businesses and community groups and large rural employers; creating opportunities that they can build on as they mature.

“That opportunity to just belong to something is one of the main things that makes Boys to the Bush work, and it gives them a sense of belonging and purpose to move forward with.”

Founded in 2017 by three teachers, the Schools Program is highly effective in improving engagement, attendance and resilience in boys aged between 9-16 living in Bathurst and Forbes.

Working with schools and services to identify vulnerable students, Boys to the Bush creates a safe space beyond the classroom for relationships and mutual respect to be formed.

“Funding from Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation will allow us to support 160 Central West kids via 16 group school programs which offer day-long sessions over 5 weeks to get boys involved in activities like farm work, fishing and local cultural and outdoor experiences – anything where they have an opportunity to develop confidence and discover latent skills under the guidance of great role models,” Jared said.

“We also connect with local Indigenous leaders who instil the boys with a connection to Country, culture and storytelling.

“Building relationships with the broader community also allows community leaders to engage with young people they may have previously dismissed as troublesome.

Providing participants with positive experiences will be hugely beneficial to mental health and self-esteem moving forward.

“At the end of the program, participating boys and their parents or guardians attend a presentation event.

“For many kids, it is the first time they’ll receive certificates and positive public recognition for what they’ve achieved; surrounded by their parents, guardians and peers.”

With years of adverse weather profoundly impacting the area and agricultural sector, securing funding for intervention programs like Boys to the Bush has become increasingly difficult.

Using a $108,800 grant from Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation, Boys to the Bush will be able to deliver their program to 16 Central West public and high schools free of charge to invest in these young men and continue growing a platform for practical change.

“Our partnership with the Charitable Foundation will help us provide at-risk boys who might otherwise fall through society’s cracks with positive mental health messaging, coping strategies and real connections; essential building blocks to becoming good men,” Jared said.

About Boys to the Bush

Boys to the Bush offer a range of programs aimed at supporting young boys to become better men in the future.

Their preventative and early intervention strategies have a proven history of being able to engage with and improve outcomes, for some of our communities' most vulnerable youth.