Sometimes the smallest requests can make the biggest difference.

Police-Citizens Youth Club (PCYC) Emerald needed just enough money to buy four laptop computers. It’s not asking for much, yet it means a whole lot for the PCYC Emerald - located in a small town 270kms west of Rockhampton.

Sergeant Julia Henderson, Branch Manager of PCYC Emerald, knows all too well how a few pieces of equipment like laptops can open new opportunities for the community. That’s why she introduced the Flexible Learning Arrangement - designed for kids in her district who were considered “at risk” after the traditional education system simply didn’t fit their needs. 

Marginalised, in-trouble, expelled, on suspension or simply refused school due to their anti-social behavior, Julia could see they were falling further behind, so she had an idea: why not use laptop computers at the local PCYC to let the kids continue their studies remotely? Under supervision, it could help them re-engage with their learning in a supportive and positive environment. Now, thanks to the Coca-Cola Australia Foundation, this vision has become a reality. 

“The students involved in the program in many cases come from financially disadvantaged homes, so there’s no way they would be able to purchase their own laptops for study purposes,” Julia says. “Now, given the way students learn using tools of technology today, having access to a laptop during their studies provides them with the same learning opportunities as those who are attending mainstream schooling.”

Fighting the good fight

Flexible Learning Arrangement started as a simple idea to keep kids learning while suspended and out of trouble and it has grown to become one of the most important programs for the PCYC.

“We are the first organisation in Emerald to ever offer an alternative for suspended students to keep studying, rather than watching TV, playing video games and getting into the usual mischief during their suspensions. And now, for the first time ever in their academic histories, four of the students are achieving C+ averages and appear to be on-track to attaining their HSC – which makes their level of employability so much higher. I’m really proud of what we’re doing here,” says Julia.

There’s room for growth and the Flexible Learning Arrangement could expand to help other regional disadvantaged kids. “The long-term goal is an open Flexi School – one for youth who, whether they are suspended, expelled or after a long period of disengagement, can always attend,” said Julia.

The good news is it’s already happening – local organisations have stepped up to help out, including Emerald State High School who provide a teacher and learning materials. Social welfare charity group Anglicare has also offered support.

“Still,” Julia adds “we’re always looking for more help…Hint-hint, nudge-nudge”.

Want to help?

To help the kids in this community check out PCYC Emerald.

If you'd like to donate to the Flexible Learning Arrangement, contact Julia Henderson on (07) 4987 4745 or email julia.henderson@pcyc.org.au.

For more information about applying for a Coca-Cola Australia Foundation Community Grant, check out our website