Redefining school and education for young people.
Community is what drives Our Vision at The Westport Club. We are driven to making a significant contribution to the quality of community life and supporting others and organisations to do the same! We are passionate about connecting with organisations and initiatives like Nautilus College that embody this very Vision – creating a connected and supportive community within our region.
Nautilus College is an independent Special Assistance School located here in the heart of Port Macquarie. Redefining school and learning for those that need additional support, with children at the college experiencing varied levels of mental health challenges, homelessness, disability, or illness. Nautilus acts as a refuge for these young people, becoming an escape and place of support for some of the most vulnerable in our community. The college works to support and guide these students in a way that works for them and their life, goals, and struggles, with hopes that they may re-enter mainstream schooling, transition to further education, or find a fulfilling job post-school that they are passionate about.
“The barriers to education that many young people may face are not unusual to us and we have an individual approach to understanding the needs of the student.” – Nautilus College
As an independent non-government school, Nautilus offers their own unique educational curriculum and support to students with an understanding of the differing backgrounds of each individual. Each day Nautilus provides students with daily breakfast and lunch, ensuring they are fed and ready for the day! Sometimes for these kids this may be their only meal for the day and knowing that they can come to school and have a fulfilling meal provides them those extra support opportunities they would otherwise go without. Regularly feeding up to 45 young people per day, and over 200 meals per week means that Nautilus is often looking for ways to expand their college and offerings to students.
Part of their breakfast and lunch program allows the students to plan, shop and store shopping items within the in-house campus kitchen. Everyday the students assist in cooking, serving, and cleaning up afterwards – providing important life skills around nutrition and diet. Students are encouraged to choose healthier options and create a life that best supports high emotional and social wellbeing. As student numbers and demand for the college grows Nautilus has recently upgraded their kitchen fridges with the help of The Westport Club’s ClubGRANTS Program to provide better resources for their students and their learning.
Our relationship with Nautilus began last year with their first ClubGRANTS Category 1 application being successful. Conversations between Jenny, our Community & Sports Manager, and Donna Stephens, Wellbeing Support Officer from Nautilus College, highlighted the difficulties that non-government schools face to obtain funding. Hearing of the importance of their breakfast and lunch program and their vision of redefining education for vulnerable students showed the significance behind their vision and the impact on our community. With the support of the local ClubGRANTS Program, Nautilus was provided a new stove and storage cabinets last year and some new fridges this year. This means that they can effectively cater for the growing demand of fresh cooked meals on campus and also provide a safe space for teachers and team to store medications. Some extra funding was also provided to install new cabinets to house art supplies and other equipment for their practical activities.
Our visit to Nautilus this week allowed us to meet these incredible young people and their amazing teachers and professional support staff, and of course view their new fridges! The college is warm and welcoming, a real place of safety and security for the students. While it was emotional to hear some stories of the reality these children face day-to-day, it was heart-warming to see the special impact their fantastic teachers, support staff, psychologist and admin team make everyday of the week. It’s special people like this that create the heart of our community and make futures brighter!
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