Their Stories / The Children

The ‘How The Magpie Found His Voice’ book was a community arts collaboration within Brisbane’s local Inala Indigenous community.

This exceptional collaborative project involved the Song Room teaching artists working with Indigenous students, their parents and carers to develop an artistically inspiring series of visual art pieces describing ‘the voiceless finding their voice’.

These engaging works were turned into a community art publication as a demonstration of the positive impact of the arts on community.

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Before he came to The Song Room, Justin was never far from trouble. A self-confessed bully, Justin* struggled staying focussed in school and was unable to find an appropriate outlet for all of his energy.

He attends Willow Brook Public School, where the catchment is in the bottom two quartiles of the Index of Community Socio-Educational advantage.

“I am not fighting with other kids like I used to because I feel good when I’m dancing.”‘Justin’, 10

Justin often found school frustrating. He comes from a Pacific Island background and has English as a second language. In fact, 57% of the residents in the area live in public housing and speak English as a second language.

Donations to The Song Room give children like Justin the opportunity to enjoy new outlets to express their creativity and keep a clear focus.

“Now, I am the lead drummer, and I have something I am good at!” says Justin, and his classmates agree.

Justin is part of The Song Room’s percussion-based Drumbeat Program, which helps year 5 and 6 boys to find new talents and direct their energies into a rewarding school experience. The program has been in place since 2009.

*name changed to protect privacy

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Before The Song Room, Michael* admits he was bullying other kids, and spending a considerable amount of time in trouble.

With a Indigneous background, Michael admits, school often felt frustrating. “Now, I am the lead in the dance group, and I learned how to dance with confidence.” His teachers agree he’s really changing his tune.

“Now I am the lead in the dance group, and i learned how to dance with confidence” ‘Michael’, 10.

Michael is a recipient of The Song Room’s Hip Hop program, which focussed on year 5 and 6 boys and girls, who would most likely benefit from the discipline and outlet of this dance-based program. It helped them find new talents, and directed their energies into a rewarding school experience.

In 2011, The Song Room began delivering an after school program and for the first time, Michael had an experience at school where he was excelling. He found a new talent for hop hop, and developed leadership skills and patience to teach his classmates. The change in his behaviour was astounding.

Because of The Song Room program, Michael was able to participate in many activities that would otherwise have been outside of his reach. He performed with the rest of the group at a school assembly in front of hundreds of his peers, he performed again at the final in-school concert and finally at the 2011 Song Room combined schools concert at Perth’s prestigious Octagon Theatre.

He also attended masterclasses with famous international choreographers who were visiting Perth, Flomaster (on Usher’s tour), Merv (on Justin Bieber’s tour) and Jabari (on Miley Cyrus’ tour). Michael was able to meet other young dancers at these events and learn many new and exciting moves that he has applied to his choreography in class.

This year, when The Song Room workshop program with Cloverdale had come to a close, Fleur continued to run the class as a volunteer. Michael is still a valuable and core member of the class. The program has ignited a love for dance in him that we all hope will stay with him for life.

*name changed to protect privacy

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