Slingshot Program: A fun way to keep kids focused

Climbing high: Billal Oueik (Merrylands Public School), Jacob Ryan (St Helens Park Public School) and Zac James (Miller Pubic School) had a great time rock climbing at The Edge in Castle Hill as a reward for doing well in the Slingshot Program.

Climbing high: Billal Oueik (Merrylands Public School), Jacob Ryan (St Helens Park Public School) and Zac James (Miller Pubic School) had a great time rock climbing at The Edge in Castle Hill as a reward for doing well in the Slingshot Program.

Unmotivated pupils from public primary schools all over Sydney are being helped by the Slingshot Program and NRL clubs Parramatta Eels, West Tigers and Manly Sea Eagles.

Program founder Tanya Middleton, a former Hills resident, saw the need to motivate boys after she learnt about the high suspension rate in some schools.

The program assists 20 students from Merrylands, Guildford West, Miller, Bligh Park, St Helens Park and Curl Curl North public schools, all chosen via a selection criteria through their school.

Ms Middleton developed the program based around rugby league, with the clubs involved funding membership, equipment and uniform costs.

"The combination of sport, mentoring and education allows boys to develop an awareness of their role in society," she said.

"It's all about drawing kids back and propelling them into a better future."

Since it began a year ago, Ms Middleton said she noticed a shift in the boys' behaviour.

"I feel like I've become this childless footy mum with 20-odd kids and I adore them all," she said. The students are required to attend training and a social skills program weekly and their efforts are rewarded with outings with the clubs' players.

The group recently visited The Edge Rock Climbing centre in Castle Hill which offered the space free of charge.

On May 1 the boys met with Parramatta Eels players to receive their new football boots.

Billal Oueik, from Merrylands, has been part of the program for three months.

"I love it," the 11-year-old said."There are so many good things about it like meeting new friends, playing rugby and meeting players."

■ Details: slingshotprogram@outlook.com

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