Country kids become city savvy

Coonalpyn is a small isolated rural community with a population of 215, located 170km southwest of Adelaide in South Australia. It faces many of the same challenges of any rural community, including young people having to leave town to further their education and learning. 

Rather than simply accept this phenomenon, the Coonalpyn Communication Network embraced the challenge, and with the funding received from FRRR’s Small Grants for Small Rural Communities program, has developed an educational program aimed at helping country kids become city savvy.

The Network was established in 2000 originally as a computer based learning centre in Coonalpyn, and has since extended its offering to provide various educational programs and skills associated with rural living as well as lifestyle opportunities not normally available to those who live in the country.

FRRR provided a grant of $1,600 which funded a course for two of the schools in the region to equip children with the skills and knowledge necessary to survive in the ‘big smoke’, when they leave town to further their education and learning.

Denise Richardson, Volunteer Coordinator said, “The course is designed to provide our youth with a better understanding of city demands to help them function effectively and independently as young adults living away from home. We address the importance of a healthy diet and exercise and how to handle finances, including paying bills. They are able to ask questions in a non-threatening environment, which enhances their learning experience."

The program also includes various presenters from different occupations talking about their own experiences so the children can learn about the diversity of employment across the region.

The program was received well by the community and had great support from the many parents who not only attended part of the course, but also witnessed their children share their learnings with other family members in the home. 

Seen as an overwhelming success, the intention is to conduct a third program when further funds become available.

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