Brothers program helping kids at East Ipswich State School
HOW do you get active 11-year-olds with little interest in schoolwork to knuckle down?
Use sport as an incentive.
That was the thinking behind a program instigated by Brothers community development officer Jason Connors at East Ipswich State School.
The special learning program targets children who have been disruptive in class.
Connors leads them in an hour-long weekly program, the first half of which is academic based, the second half is sports.
But Connors has managed to mix the sport and learning further, with a set of alphabetised footballs.
So while they're playing with footballs, they are improving their literacy skills through specially designed games and exercises.
"While they're playing with the balls we'll make them spell a word with it," Connors said as an example of the program.
Connors developed the program last year, with the help of East Ipswich teacher Elsje McQueen.
The results became apparent almost immediately.
"All the kids respond to it well," he said. "They want to be in it so they can do the component because the kids love footy and sport, like me.
"In the class room they wouldn't participate unless there was a fun activity. So they get to have fun playing league, but we make sure it has benefits."
The East Ipswich kids are not the only ones to benefit from Connors' initiative.
Brothers, which purchased the balls for Connors' program, ordered enough to supply Brothers under 6, 7s and 8s with balls.
Connors has also created a DVD coaching manual - The Practical Guide for New Coaches, which incorporates the coaching drills.
"The Brothers board decided to fund balls for these junior teams to promote rugby league amongst the little guys," Brothers general manager Mark Hennelly said.
"We have done this a number of years ago and thought it was appropriate to revisit.
"The initiative was very well received by all parents.
"It was gratifying to hear a few of the kid's say it was their first rugby league ball. Kids that are learning as well as being active, which is a great outcome."