Thank You Thursday: A new narrative for men

Many of us have heard of ‘the man cave’, a place where men hideout from family pressures – a place where they can really try to be themselves, a place to tinker with their bikes, cars and/or hobbies. But did you know there is a real man cave helping young men with their emotions and mental health?

As World Mental Health Day is acknowledged on 10th October we’re taking this opportunity to highlight this growing organisation, The Man Cave.

Thank You Thursday: Local Librarians

International Literacy Day is celebrated on 8th September to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies, so this month we’ll make mention of a little organisation doing that across neighbourhoods in Australia called Street Library.

Street Library was founded by Nic Lowe whose vision came about from wanting to have an Australian-based free library movement to encourage literacy and community progress. Based on Little Free Libraries in America, Nic saw what they were doing and thought what a great idea to expand in Australia, and so a group of people got together to make it happen. Nic built and installed the first Street Library outside his home in Newtown.

Street Libraries are wonderful little homes for books that are accessible from the street and an invitation for sharing the joys of reading with people from all walks of life. One can simply reach into these little ‘homes’ and select what interests them. When done, they are returned or can be passed on to a friend knowing the ‘checking in’ or out of the book is not needed.

By participating in the Street Library movement, people – known as street librarians – can help to encourage reading, sharing and that a sense of community. The average little home for these books holds between 20 – 40 readers, plenty of room for your most enjoyed books to fit in.

Officially beginning in Sydney, New South Wales in November 2015 the idea has swiftly expanded. Street Library has three main objectives:
1. Encourage Literacy – “The more you read, the more you will know.”
2. To motivate people and bring neighbourhoods all over Australia closer together. By taking a book and leaving another one in its place, a cycle of generosity is shared.
3. To have registered by December 2021 – 5,000 Street Libraries.

Street Library aims to be self-sufficient by selling libraries to those who do not want to build their own and also host workshops for those who want to learn to build.

Street Libraries are a symbol of trust, hope and a passageway to literary happiness. Their motto is:

“Take a Book, Give a Book, Share a Book.”

So, this Thank You Thursday, we’re thanking Nic and the team behind Street Library, as well as all the ‘street librarians’ out there that host and helped establish a home for books in their local community.

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick.

* Photo courtesy of Sydney Morning Herald: The first street library outside founder, Nic Lowe’s home.

Thank You Thursday: Young Healers

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day is celebrated on 4th August. It’s an opportunity for all Australians to show their support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, as well as learn about the crucial impact that culture, family and community play in the life of every child.

Malpa is a charity that is doing just that. Through their health leadership program called Young Doctors, Malpa is training Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal young people to be health ambassadors for their communities. Designed and run by local Elders, along with respected community members and supported by health workers, this program teaches hygiene, health literacy, nutrition, and wellbeing as well as identity.

The Ngangkari, being the traditional Aboriginal healers in Central Australia, have been passing on their skills to the young for thousands of years. These skills are deeply embedded in Indigenous culture and life and now the idea has been given a new injection of life with the Young Doctors project.

As the young people become health leaders and peers to their younger community members, it is not only creating a stronger group of people but, is opening up career pathways to better health. In each of the areas the local language is used, and over a fun packed but structured program these communities are taught traditional and contemporary ways by respected members and Elders and as a result the Young Doctors are becoming health ambassadors.

The importance of hand hygiene, cleaning noses, washing, keeping the house and community clean as well as bush medicine etc. is learned by the Young Doctors. Malpa CEO, Don Palmer says:

“The whole idea is to equip kids on how to teach their brothers and sisters a healthier lifestyle.”

Some outcomes for the young doctors who have participated in this project include:
• 98% were found to be happy to go to school since becoming Young Doctors
• 100% thought about working in a job after completing school
• 100% reported knowing more about Aboriginal culture
• 3 in 5 enjoyed learning from their Elders and Aboriginal community leaders

With professionals such as doctors and dentists right across the country teaching children about having a good healthy lifestyle, the benefits about Indigenous issues are being learned; and the friendships made are about reconciliation and recognition between communities.

This Thank You Thursday, we say thank you to the team at Malpa and everyone involved in delivering the Young Doctors project.

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick.

Thank You Thursday: Knitting for Good

As we settle in to the heart of Australian winter I thought it would be timely to share the story of a small non-profit that was established about this time fifteen years ago. Melbourne experienced an extremely cold winter in July of 2004, that was when Ros Rogers noticed how popular knitting had become in winter, particularly knitted scarves, and that led her rally some family and friends and they knitted 180 scarves for those experiencing homelessness. The following year Ros established an official not-for-profit organisation called kogo – which stands for knit one, give one.

Thank You Thursday: Real Goodness

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate to be in the audience of Dr Jane Goodall’s Rewind the Future Australian Tour. GOODall by name and good by nature. She is truly inspiring.

Since her groundbreaking and, at the time controversial, field study of chimpanzees in 1960,  Dr Goodall has gone on to carve out a career spanning more than five decades. She is not only a primatologist, but an activist, and not only for chimpanzees and other great apes, but for conservation more broadly and planet Earth as a whole. She truly believes that it’s all connected; that we’re all connected.

In 1977 Dr Goodall founded the Jane Goodall Institute and today there are more than 35 offices around the globe, including one here in Australia.

Jane Goodall Institute Australia was established in 2007 and works to promote the conservation of chimpanzees and other great apes (as our closest living relatives in the animal kingdom). Through their Roots & Shoots program they aim to empower the next generation to be socially and environmentally conscious citizens of our shared planet. The organisation hopes to:

  1. Foster a public understanding of the interconnection of people, animals and the environment.
  2. Create an ever expanding network of Australians who are inspired, engaged and empowered to become changes makers in local and global environmental and humanitarian projects.
  3. Increase public awareness of and support for the conservation of endangered animals in Australia.
  4. Increase public awareness of and support for conservation of Chimpanzees and other Great Apes.

Although it might be a small charity, so far, Jane Goodall Institute Australia have protected 3.4m hectares of habitat and ensured that more than 150 chimpanzees are cared for at a newly expanded sanctuary in Republic of Congo. And, most impressively, 500,000 young people are reached through the Australia Roots and Shoots program.

Surely, with this many young people taking an interest in conservation and sustainable living, Dr Goodall’s message is making a difference…

“Every single day you make an impact on the planet. You have a choice whether to make it positive or negative.”

We all know time is money, but how much would you spend to save our only home… planet earth? The organisation’s website currently has an interactive campaign to encourage people to donate 58 minutes of their time to rewind the doomsday clock before it’s too late.
Calculate what 58 minutes of your time is worth and get involved to save our planet here.

This Thank You Thursday we send our biggest thanks to Dr Goodall for her dedication and commitment to making our world truly a better place. And to those working toward the same mission at the Jane Goodall Institute Australia and around the world.  Like Jane said… ‘Together we can. Together we will.

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick.

Thank You Thursday: Dedicated Doulas

With less than 10% of Australian women having the same medical professionals through pregnancy and birth, a doula can bring continuity and fill the gap.  But what is a doula?

From the Greek word meaning ‘servant of a woman’, a doula is a trained birth support companion who provides practical and emotional support and information to a woman during pregnancy, birth and early parenting.