Winter School Holiday Project

16 September 2019

Ciara Duggan

Ciara Duggan is the Youth Programs Team Leader at YWCA Canberra

Over the July 2019 Winter School Holidays, the Youth Programs team provided a free and exciting school holiday program for young people aged 12-25 years living in the Tuggeranong area.

The first week of the school holiday program coincided with NAIDOC Week 2019. It provided an opportunity for us to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This year’s theme, Voice. Treaty. Truth. Let’s work together for a shared future, highlights the need for accurate reflection and accountability of the past in order to work towards a better future. Without honesty of the true history, the wounds cannot heal.

We attended the NAIDOC Week Community Celebration, which was opened with a heartfelt Welcome to Country, and a traditional smoking ceremony with a didgeridoo performance and song. The Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Rachel Stephen-Smith, gave a speech encouraging all Australians to engage in conversations about truth-telling, “To truly move forward and build a better future together, we need to understand and acknowledge our shared past.”

We had lots of fun exploring the displays, children’s art/craft workshops and stalls, especially the reptile stall which had lizards, turtles and a baby crocodile. After this, we sat in the sunshine enjoyed the live performances while snacking on the delicious healthy food provided for free by the hosting community organisations.


This was a community driven week where many of the events and activities were hosted by community groups, schools and organisations who wanted to celebrate the achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and share their cultures with the wider community.”


Another highlight from the week was our excursion to Bank Indoor Skate Park. The owner taught our young people how to do a backflip with their scooters, and by the end of the three hour-long session, one young person managed to successfully complete this trick. We also used the time to buy new gear and do any equipment maintenance in a supported and safe environment.

The first week also saw our Average Ninja Chef activity with the theme Italy versus Mexico. The group of young people were divided evenly, given $25 to spend. They were tasked with writing a menu, and budgeting and shopping for the ingredients. Team Mexico decided to cook Chicken Burritos and Team Italy chose to create a Desert Pizza. We had an amazing time in the kitchen preparing the food, being creative and learning new skills.

Before serving the meals, each team presented an explanation of their creation to the group and reflected on what they had enjoyed the most and what was the biggest challenge throughout the experience. After sampling both meals, the judges awarded Team Mexico as the competition winners. Throughout the day there was lots of laughter, fun, great food. All our participants were given MasterChef aprons to take home. We ended the first week of our school holiday program with a pool competition and BBQ at the Lanyon Youth Centre, followed by an action-packed double session at Zone Bowling Tuggeranong.

The second week of our school holiday program started with the LGBTQIA & Allies Prom planning day at YWCA Canberra Central office. The Prom is a formal style event for young people to express their identity in a safe, supportive, and non-judgemental environment. At the planning day, we brainstormed lots of ideas to make the event bigger than ever before. We voted on the theme, food, decorations, youth awards, performances, music and decided on having a paint by number mural. It is shaping up to be a fantastic event with a sit-down dinner, red carpet and make up stalls. We can’t wait!

Finally, we welcomed our new mentor, Sean, who led an educational and fun Tabletop Games Design workshop. We wrapped up the week up with popular Clubhouse activities: Tie Dying and Spiro Mini Golf and went to see the newly released movie The Lion King at Limelight Movies at Tuggeranong.

If you are interested in finding out more about our school holiday programs, please contact YWCA Canberra Youth Programs Team Leader, Ciára Duggan, at

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