Education Matters

Trinity News: School boys’ silence gives Cambodians a voice

Posted by Trinity Grammar School on Mar 24, 2018 6:00:00 AM

Day without speech In Trinity news, 800 students from the School, aged from five to 12 stopped speaking and remained silent for up to an entire school day. The students recently took part in Day Without Speech, in support of a programme which raises funds to bring speech therapy to Cambodians.

By participating in the challenge, students learned valuable lessons about the value of communication and it fostered gratitude and empathy for those with special needs. It provided them scope to explore their creativity in finding ways to communicate without using their voice, while also teaching them mindfulness. As students weren’t allowed to speak, they had to resort to using hand gestures, facial expressions, writing and even technology to communicate.

The funds raised from the challenge will support OIC Cambodia’s work to establish speech therapy as a profession in Cambodia. Based in Phnom Penh, OIC’s aim is to make speech therapy available to all who need it in the country. The organisation has a long-term plan and an exit strategy - to have 100 Cambodian speech therapists employed by the government by 2030.

At the end of the Day Without Speech challenge, teachers asked students to reflect on their experience. They discussed the impact those with communication difficulties face, and learned about communication methods that can better include those with difficulties and disabilities, promoting a more inclusive school environment.

Quizzed by ABC Radio’s Breakfast team Wendy Harmer and Robbie Buck, Year 6 Junior School student and Charities and Community Leader, Joshua Leverton spoke eloquently about the programme ahead of staying silent for the day. “If someone does break the silence, we wave our finger at them in silence, or we look at each other and laugh,” said Joshua. “It was a big challenge for us the first year – lots of kids broke the silence but the second year it wasn’t so bad.”

“Many children around the world face difficulties simply because they cannot communicate. In Cambodia, children with a disability are often excluded from school, which has a huge impact on their future prospects,” said Trinity alumni and Sydney native, Mr Weh Yeoh who founded OIC Cambodia.

“More than 600,000 or one in 25 people in Cambodia, many of them children, have a speaking or swallowing disability, which impacts them physically, mentally and socially. Whereas in Australia there are over 7,500 speech therapists, in Cambodia there is not one Cambodian university-trained speech therapist. There are no government policies addressing the issue, and very little awareness of the issue,” continued Weh.

This was the third year that Trinity Grammar School students from the Preparatory and Junior School campuses have taken up the Day Without Speech challenge. This raised just over $19.000 this year, bringing their total over three years to more than $55,000.

“The feedback from students and staff is always positive, with staff saying that it enhanced learning in some ways, with students having to work more independently,” said Trinity Grammar School Teacher, Mr Craig Hassall.

Our mission at Trinity Grammar School is to help boys from Pre-Kindergarten to Year 12 to discover their innate talents and unlock their full potential within the context of a supportive Christian environment. We have guided boys to grow in mind, body and spirit for over a century and we know what boys need to truly flourish and succeed.

Trinity teaches boys that charity is not always about raising funds for others less fortunate – sometimes it is about advocating on behalf of those groups and inspiring others into action in their own lives. They learn that diversity does not always present itself at the gates of the School, and that they must seek out opportunities to immerse themselves in its richness. This requires genuine understanding and empathy.

To learn more about the Trinity difference and to discover why we’re one of Sydney’s leading schools for boys, download our prospectus.

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Topics: Trinity difference, Community service, Students