During her running career Cathy Freeman was an inspiration to many Australians and since her retirement she continues to inspire through her Cathy Freeman Foundation.
One of the Cathy Freeman Foundation’s key programmes is the Horizons Programme, a personal development project that builds resilience and provides school students with the tools to finish Year 12 and achieve their own life and learning goals.
The Horizons Programme, run in partnership with Victorian children’s charity Cottage by the Sea since 2008, sees students from the Cathy Freeman Foundation’s four partner communities of Palm Island in northern Queensland, Galiwin’ku in Arnhem Land, Woorabinda in central Queensland and Wurrumiyanga on the Tiwi Islands have the opportunity to spend a week in Melbourne, Sydney or Canberra.
The Horizons camps involve the students sharing and learning from each other. Throughout the week they learn to build their skills in goal setting, develop their self-esteem and learn about different post-school pathways and opportunities.
And according to Palm Island’s Bwgcolman Community School principal Ross McHutcheon, the Programme is working.
“The Horizons Programme has a significant impact on students, they work together, make new relationships and learn from new experiences,” Ross said.
Bwgcolman Teacher’s Aide Clifford Beetham also sees the benefits of the Horizon’s Programme.
“The biggest impact on the students is gaining confidence in themselves, dreaming big about their goals in the future and keeping their culture strong and alive,” Clifford said.
Each Horizon camp is tailored specifically to the age ranges of the students, with an increasing focus on thinking about and setting post-school goals for the older students.
Key elements of the programme include goal setting workshops, mentoring with Indigenous role models, cultural learning and ending with a public speaking presentation where the students share their dreams with the whole group. Increasingly these dreams are getting bigger as the students discover, with the help of the Cathy Freeman Foundation, what they can be capable of.