Chaplain's passion for bringing hope into young lives
SCHOOL'S tough enough, but it's even tougher if you're hungry, feel isolated or your parents are breaking up.
For a lot of students, the added pressure of dealing with issues outside of school takes a toll not only on their school work but their lives.
School chaplain, Sandy Beak, says that often kids just need someone to turn to who will offer a sympathetic ear.
Sometimes kids don't want answers, they just want someone to listen to what they have to say
Mrs Beak has been a chaplain for four years, but prior to this she spent years running a playgroup and discovered her passion for helping people live a great life.
"When I heard about the school chaplaincy programme I knew it was the perfect opportunity to help young people with the issues they face each day," she said.
After completing her Cert. IV in Youth Studies Mrs Beak was assigned to a primary school where she found her life skills and training were in great need.
"Often it's problems with fitting in, relationships with friends or difficulties at school that brings students to my door," she says.
But sometimes she has to deal with issues that really tug at her heartstrings.
"The hardest part is coming across a situation we'd like to change but can't, like a student's parents' divorcing, a sick family member or their struggle to cope with the death of a loved one.
"My job is to help empower them to change the way they see things, to focus on the good and live through it the best way they can," she said.
For other students she has some simple practical solutions.
"For kids coming to school hungry we've set up a breakfast club and I have all the ingredients needed to make sandwiches for children who don't have any lunch," she said.
All this costs money and Mrs Beak is extremely grateful for the donations that help support her and her fellow chaplains' work.
"We get some funding from the government but the local chaplaincy committee do amazing work behind the scenes to raise funds to keep us 'chappies' in schools to do the job we're called to do," she said.
Plus it's not just schoolchildren needing her services.
"We're also on hand to talk with teachers and parents, which another way of helping students," she said.
Mrs Beak's advice for anyone thinking about becoming a school chaplain is to "totally do it."
"If you have a passion for young people and bringing hope into the lives of others then hang out with us for a day and see if it's a good fit. It's an absolutely amazing job," she said.
And her advice for the rest of us is to "remember that every situation has some good in it."
"Don't dwell on the stuff you can't change."