Wednesday, April 8, 2009

“THE Former Origin Greats” Billabong To Beaches Camp: Mudjimba 2009

Imagine surfing, abseiling, canoeing, mountain biking and archery with your heroes. What an awesome experience!! In fact, it was a life changing experience for a group of indigenous boys from Doomadgee and Mornington Island who recently participated in the ‘Billabong to Beaches’ Camp at Mudjimba.

The boys come from disadvantaged backgrounds with histories of alcoholism, substance abuse, violence and sexual assault. The Camp’s aim is to improve their life skills to enable them to make better life choices and motivate them into leading a positive life for themselves and their communities.

The 14 boys spent the previous week in Longreach, working on horsemanship and leather skills. After the camp the boys returned to Longreach for another week of honing their mustering skills. Most of the boys are aiming to get jobs on stations when they finish.

The Former Origin Greats organised for Australia’s fastest man, Patrick Johnson; 2x World Kung Fu champion, Luke C Gregory and Australian Triathlon representative, Chris Weier, to join the boys on the week-long camp. They mentored the boys through their challenges during the week.

Pat Johnson grew up in the small community of Leichardt River and experienced firsthand the same anti-social behaviours the camp is trying to combat. Johnson went to University in Canberra, before beginning his athletics career. He started running at the University Games at the age of 24. Since his relatively late start in the sport he has represented Australia at three Olympic Games and numerous Commonwealth Games, in addition to being selected in the Australian Athletics team to compete in the World Athletics championships in Rome later this year. His message was that the boys needed to be strong and chase their dreams.

“I want to be a 100m runner, like Pat” said Noel (pictured). Noel had his 16th birthday during the camp. He proudly wore the jacket his hero had given him.

The non-profit Former Origin Greats was established in 1997 by the late Richard ‘Tosser’ Turner. Its Indigenous Programs have been developed with a commitment to closing the gap for indigenous youth through mentoring and career advice. All 166 members are former Queensland State of Origin players. The FOGS have organised another seven of these camps over the year.


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