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Youth Disability

Thebarton Senior College students build prosthetic hands for amputee victims in the developing world

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Thebarton Senior College

The students at Thebarton Senior College in Torrensville – many of whom are new arrivals to Australia and come from non-English speaking backgrounds – will shift their learning focus this Wednesday to build prosthetic hands for amputee victims who would otherwise not be able to afford a prosthesis.  

Thebarton Senior College teacher Matt Stevens said, “For our students in the New Arrivals Program (NAP), the impact of being able to participate in “Helping Hands” and make a difference to the lives of those in need, is truly significant. Some of our students have come from countries where they’ve lived with energy poverty, unclean water etc. Being able to give back to the wider community and help someone is very special.”

Thebarton was the first Australian secondary school to become a United Nations Global Peace School (in 2007). As well as being a senior secondary college delivering the South Australian Certificate of Education, the college is also a Registered Training Organisation and is the New Arrivals Program (NAP) provider in South Australia for newly arrived senior secondary migrant and refugee students. 

“Restorative practices, peace building and human rights are ongoing and particularly important to our community as many students have not experienced fairness in the past and do not necessarily have a strong understanding of human rights. We have the opportunity to teach about peace and human rights and also celebrate our shared vision for our community and our world,” Mr Stevens said. 

Through the Helping Hands Program, volunteers from the Origin Energy Foundation work with students to assemble prosthetic limbs for people in developing countries, where amputations and hand injuries due to landmines and other incidents are all too common. Loss of limbs also occurs due to lack of access to medical treatment following other accidents such as falls and electrocution.

Thebarton Senior College

Origin volunteers across the country have also drawn on their own multicultural backgrounds to translate the program instructions for the students into their own languages including Arabic, Vietnamese and Spanish. 

Helping Hands provides prosthetic hands at no cost, for the 1-2 million people globally who are in need but cannot afford a prosthesis. 

Ruth Lee, Origin Energy Foundation volunteering program manager said she was pleased Origin could support Thebarton Senior College to participate in a program like Helping Hands which builds capacity and provide students with purpose and motivation, linking them to real life careers.

“Helping inspire more young people to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering, or maths by sparking an interest in humanitarian engineering to help the world’s disadvantaged is something we are very proud of,” Ms Lee said.

Origin volunteers, together with Australian school children, have assembled 85 prosthetic limbs – contributing to almost 20,000 over the 10 years of the program. After Origin volunteers help students assemble the prosthetic hands in classrooms, the students decorate a pouch for the hand and insert a personalised note to the recipient. 

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