Mundaring’s Tonia Leonard helping close the gap with homework club in Swan View

Tonia Leonard said she could not run the programs without the help of volunteers including her daughter Sophie, Shire of Mundaring employee Brigitte, Curtin University nursing student Lucy, recent high school graduate Georgia, UWA pre-med student Kira, and new recruit Mckenna.
Tonia Leonard said she could not run the programs without the help of volunteers including her daughter Sophie, Shire of Mundaring employee Brigitte, Curtin University nursing student Lucy, recent high school graduate Georgia, UWA pre-med student Kira, and new recruit Mckenna.

TONIA Leonard is a firm believer that it takes a village to raise a child.

So when the Shire of Mundaring customer service officer witnessed ongoing anti-social behaviour at the Brown Park Recreation Centre in Swan View she decided to do something about it.

“When I started at the centre about five years ago there was a lot of vandalism, graffiti and aggressive behaviour happening,” she said.

“After extensive consultation with the community and other stakeholders I formed KAOS (Kids Activities Out of School) as a drop in for primary school aged children on Thursday afternoons.

“There were services in the area for youth aged 12 and older, but nothing for the younger ones to attend.”

Mrs Leonard said two years ago she added the Homework Club to offer additional support for students in numeracy and literacy.

She said education was a critical factor in closing the gap in disadvantage.

“The majority of our participants are fantastic local Aboriginal children and the sessions are designed to show participants that learning is fun and increase the kids’ expectations of life,” she said.

“We average 15 primary and high school kids each week and I am constantly amazed by their commitment to attending.

“Most of the kids walk to the Youth Centre – even when it’s pouring with rain.

“As the group finishes around 6.30pm the volunteers walk the kids home – even when it is pouring with rain.

“All pens, pencils, paper and worksheets are provided and the kids are given dinner before going home.

“I am fortunate my Shire co-workers sell chocolates to fundraise for consumables for the group.”

Mrs Leonard said she was incredibly proud of not only the kids but the volunteers who supported the program.

“The younger volunteers are fantastic mentors and role models for the participants,” she said.

“I love hearing the homework club participants ask the younger volunteers for advice on how to get a job or for information on how to get to university and what it is like.

“Watching the kids grow in confidence and ability and feel valued members of their community makes me proud of the village we have created.”