Six high school students will represent Storm at the NRL All Stars Indigenous Youth Leaders Summit in Melbourne next week.
The Year 11 students are part of the NRL’s School To Work program, an initiative helping young Indigenous Australians successfully transition into higher education and employment.
Funded by the Australian Government, the School to Work program is backed by NRL players, clubs and staff.
Melbourne Storm nominated four students to attend the summit, which will see around 68 young Indigenous people participate in cultural activities at venues across Melbourne from Monday to Sunday, to coincide with the inaugural Indigenous v Maori All Stars clash at AAMI Park on Friday night.
“We nominated four students and we are fortunate to actually have six students attending because the summit is being held in Melbourne this year,” School to Work project officer Lyndall Down said.
“These were students who were recognised as leaders in their community and positive role models among their peers.”
Hallam Senior College students Teagan Gittens, Shane Pispek, Ky-ya Ward, Dakoda Bolton and Parade College students George Dann and Deklan Garcia will represent Melbourne Storm during the week-long summit.
Ky-ya will perform with the Djirri Djirri dance group at Welcome to Country, the NRL All Stars dinner and before the women’s All Stars game on Friday.
“I’m really excited to showcase my culture in front of an Indigenous audience,” she said.
“I’m excited to meet new people and people that I can relate to in a culturally safe space and learn about different cultures and the diversity of Indigenous people.
“I feel really lucky to be a part of the School To Work program which has given me this opportunity to connect with other Indigenous people and with mentors who are helping me pursue my career aspirations.”
The summit aims to help students improve their knowledge of Indigenous culture and up-skill so they are ready to take advantage of opportunities that come their way after school.
Women’s rugby league player Te Aroha Hapuku – who will play in the women’s All Stars clash on Friday – presented the students with Melbourne Storm polo tops this week ahead of the summit.
“My advice to girls who are interested in playing league is just give it a go, if you love sports just give it a try,” she said.
“They say hard work beats talent so just give it a go.”