St Mary's College introduced the Service Learning Program for all Year 11 students in 2005. This program grew out of the numerous Social Justice initiatives that have been introduced to St Mary's over the past years.
Through exposure to Service Learning activities, the Year 11 students are invited to make the transition from the perspective of charity to that of justice. Service Learning is a program whereby the students participate in organized service with marginalised groups or individuals in our community.To fulfil their Service Learning component, Year 11 students work with the elderly in nursing homes; assist people with disabilities; provide care and compassion to refugees and new arrivals; nurture the disadvantaged and homeless; and prepare meals for Meals on Wheels as well as other organizations and marginalized groups.
During Term 3, student fulfil their placement by "giving something of themselves" - being a friend, providing company, giving emotional and social support, displaying respect, care and compassion, providing practical assistance, and often just being there!
At the end of their placement students return to school and share their experiences, challenges and stories with one another. This reflective process is significant and important and reveals that for most, if not all, their Service Learning had an impact on their lives.
In the context of Service Learning, it is worth sharing the words of William Arthur Ward:
"Each of us will one day be judged by
Our standard of life –
Not by our standard of living;
By our measure of giving Not
by our Measure of wealth;
By our simple goodness -
Not by our seeming greatness."