Kids live and learn as Merge program takes them places they haven't seen

GIVING kids experiences they wouldn’t normally have is the aim of Orange City Council’s Merge school holiday program.

The program runs every January, April and October school holidays, and takes around 30 disadvantaged school-aged children for a week of activities and on excursions, with swimming lessons every afternoon.

Council’s Aboriginal youth project officer Kurt Beahan said children are split up into age groups, one group of 11 to 15 year olds on the program in the first week of the holidays, and seven to 10 year olds in the second week.

“We look at doing things they wouldn’t normally do because of transportation or costs, things like that,” Mr Beahan said. 

“We try to give them a balance between cultural, life skills, health and food.”

The children that took part in the program were from a range of backgrounds and cultures, and Mr Beahan said they had to learn how to get along with each other.

“We have kids from Aboriginal, Sudanese and non-Aboriginal backgrounds,” he said.

“At the beginning of the week, they weren’t friends, but now they’re really getting along.”

Cadia Valley Operations and the Attorney General’s department fund the program, with support from the police, Families NSW and businesses.

To qualify for the Merge program, families must have a healthcare card, and Mr Beahan said there are many parents who want to register their children.

“The sad thing is we can only cater for 30 kids,” he said.

“We have other families on a waiting list, so they’re guaranteed a spot the next holidays.”

For more information on Merge programs, contact the Community Information and Services Centre on 6393 8600.

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