COLA (Community Service, Outdoor Education, Leadership Skills, Advance) covers knowledge and understanding from a range of domains including Health and Physical Education, Geography, Science, Communication, Interpersonal Development (Working in Teams, Building Social Relationships) and Thinking Processes (Reasoning, Processing and Inquiry, and Reflection, Evaluation and Metacognition). COLA is in its third year, and is therefore due to complete the three-year cycle at the end of 2016. Students can take the subject more than once, meaning units have to cater for students entering for the first time, as well as those who have completed a semester or more. COLA stands for:
Community Service The local aged-care facility – Abbeyfield – has been the focus of students’ voluntary work over the past three years. Once a week, students have engaged in a variety of activities with residents. The program began with students teaching willing residents how to use an iPad. Residents successfully used the device to keep in touch with family or play various brain-training style games. Students also play Bingo, cards, or board games. There is also the opportunity to spend time in the dementia ward. Here, students can read through the newspaper with residents, and paint the nails of those who are willing. Those who have already completed a semester of COLA are expected to take on a more active role and lead the other students and residents. These students have already developed relationships with residents and are expected to maintain and improve upon them. They are also expected to liaise with the Recreation Leader of Abbeyfield and create common goals for specific residents. With the assistance of the Recreation Leader, these students are required to devise more activities for both residents and students to be engaged in. For example, one goal is to ‘buddy’ students up with one resident each, in order to develop a closer relationship over the semester. Students new to the subject are expected to engage in the activities and work on developing relationships with the residents.
Future community projects may include outdoor activities eg. cleaning up Tea-Tree Lake, tree planting.
Students may also have access to an excursion to Warrnambool. The aim of this excursion is to familiarise students with local physical and mental health facilities. The day includes:
a tour of HEMS 4 (Helicopter Emergency Service). Students learn how this service is run, as well as discussing the variety of qualifications needed and jobs that are available in the field.
a tour of Warrnambool Hospital Emergency Department. The goal here is to familiarise students with a place that they may have to access in the future under more stressful circumstances.
a presentation by Brophy Youth Services. Here, students learn how to access the varying types of services aimed at their age group. There is also a presentation regarding diversity in the South West.
Outdoor Education Students attend one camp during the semester. Students who have completed a semester of COLA already are expected to teach new students how to prepare for a 3 day camping trip. They must also teach safe trangia use, practical dinner ideas, and how to set up tents. Students are expected to set goals for the camp and reflect upon them during and after the experience. The camps have so far been held in Nelson, Lorne, Warrnambool and the Grampians, with activities including:
rock climbing and abseiling
mountain bike riding
Two periods a week are dedicated to boxing or boot camp-style activities. The aim is to improve fitness in these specific areas and prepare for a minimum of 2.5 hour hikes on all camps. Experienced students are expected to run the boxing/boot camp activities and assist students with technique. New students must focus on learning correct boxing techniques and a variety of combinations. The combinations start at beginner level and eventually end up at an advanced level. Students have also had access to a basic level First Aid course run by Ambulance Victoria. The aim is to increase students’ confidence in this area before attending camp. Leadership Skills There are many ways in which students may develop and consolidate leadership skills. While experienced students are expected to show increased initiative, new students are provided with opportunities in which to attempt leadership in a Year 8-10 environment.
As mentioned earlier, students who have already completed a semester of COLA must design fitness sessions. Visiting Abbeyfield allows students to demonstrate leadership and confidence by running activities with residents. New students are given the opportunity to step up and involve themselves more actively.
Students are required to complete a Brain Quadrant activity. Through completing a questionnaire, students discover their strengths and areas in which to improve. The quadrants are:
From here, students must set SMART goals that allow them to not only extend their strengths but also challenge themselves in their weaker quadrants. These challenges and goals are reflected upon regularly. The camps are designed to offer students with a variety of challenges - physical, social and personal – and give students opportunities to take risks and push themselves in areas in which they may lack confidence. Opportunities to show leadership on camp include:
assisting others with tent set-up.
ensuring BBQs and trangias are cleaned properly after each meal.
ensuring our area is cleared of rubbish every day.
encouraging everyone to participate in all activities, especially those that take students out of their comfort zone.
Students complete a post-camp reflection assignment. They must reflect on the SMART goals that they set for themselves beforehand. There is opportunity for growth for every student at any level. Advance Curriculum The subject attracts a grant every year, and therefore requires a detailed report that justifies how the money was spent and what students specifically achieved. The report places a major focus on students’ involvement within their local community and how their leadership skills have developed over the unit. For more information, go to the Advance Schools’ Program: http://www.dhs.vic.gov.au/about-the-department/plans,-programs-and-projects/programs/youth-specific/advance-schools-program