Girls Academy launched at Challis PS


Challis Girls Academy program manager Shantelle Cox, Girls Academy founder Ricky Grace and Challis principal Lee Musumeci with the students from Challis’s new Girls Academy.
Challis Girls Academy program manager Shantelle Cox, Girls Academy founder Ricky Grace and Challis principal Lee Musumeci with the students from Challis’s new Girls Academy.

THE future is bright in the hands of Armadale’s young indigenous women.

A new Girls Academy was launched at Challis Primary on Monday, and is the first to operate out of a primary school.

Created by Olympian and Perth Wildcats legend Ricky Grace, the Girls Academy works with high schools across Australia to deliver a program that supports and empowers Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls.

Grace said the pilot primary school program is a great step for the Academy, with activities designed around its ‘Big 4’ objectives of increasing school attendance, advancing academic and personal achievement, improving Year 12 graduation rates and helping with the post-school transition.

“I’m of the view that the sooner we can incorporate the values for the girls and the sooner we can prepare the girls for what their life will be in high school, the better,” he said.

“The impact has been amazing around our focus on school attendance. For the girls to know and have the confidence that they have someone just like a family member backing them at school at this early stage in their life is something that’s really shown benefits here.”

When launching the Challis Girls Academy with principal Lee Musumeci, Armadale MLA Tony Buti, Mayor Henry Zelones and Girls Academy regional manager Phil Paioff, Grace spoke about what inspired him to start the program.

“Thirteen years ago, I got into this space because there was millions of dollars being put in to programs for boys, but nothing for girls,” he said.

“Instead of being one of those people to talk about it, I did something about it.”

Challis Girls Academy program manager Shantelle Cox said she is grateful for the opportunity to be such a positive influence on young girls and help them grow in to strong, independent and influential women.

“When Challis Community Primary School was chosen as a site for Girls Academy, I saw much potential for it to be a strategy to engage and keep Aboriginal girls in school,” Ms Cox said.

“The motto for Girls Academy is ‘develop a girl, change a community’. We’re proud to be doing this.”

The program is being delivered to more than 30 high schools across WA, New South Wales and the Northern Territory.

With support from the federal and state governments along with the private sector, the Girls Academy is looking to increase the number of girls in the program from 2000 to 3500 by 2019.

Girls Academy also launches at local high school

It’s a big week in Armadale, with Cecil Andrews College also launching their new high school Girls Academy on Friday.

Year 12 student Shontae Quartermaine said the project has had a positive impact on both her academic and social life.

“The way they combine scholastic and social activities encourages girls to get more involved and come out of their shells,” she said.

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