Sleepover with a difference

Sleep over

Sleepovers with school friends have become a common event for many students.  Whether for a party, music night or just to be together, the overnight visit encourages communication and affirms friendships.

Over 20 students of Emmaus Catholic College at Kemps Creek recently participated in a different sleepover experience.

“It was so we could better understand the situation of homeless people,” explained Linda Slyman of Year 9.  “Of course we weren’t sleeping in the streets, park or under a bridge but we were away from the comfort of our own beds”.

The venue for the Winter Sleepout was the Library at the College where the students and supervising staff improvised bedding with pillows and sleeping bags.

“Next year we hope we will be allowed to actually sleep outdoors”, said Rachel El-Rachkidi a Year 7 participant in the evening.

Before settling themselves on the floor, the students took part in an Amazing Race, a liturgy and had talks from representatives of the St Vincent de Paul Society on the theme and incidence of homelessness in Australia today.

“We also donated blankets and sleeping bags to the Vinnies Winter Appeal”, Linda added.  “It makes everything we read and hear about the struggles of homeless people seem so much more real and more urgent”.

Matthew Aquilina an Emmaus student from Year 8 hopes that “next year we can sleep outside and have things a bit rough.”  He found the sleepout evening informative, saying “I learned things I didn’t know before from the talk by the Vinnies people and I was glad  I had a bag of clothes to donate”.  Matthew also felt that the activities of the evening were “good fun and showed us we can help people but still enjoy ourselves”.

Soup kitchens and the distribution of cups of soup is a feature of the help many charitable organisations offer to the hungry.  It was appropriate for the sleepout students to have a further sense of awareness by being provided with soup for dinner.  Emmaus Business Manager Paul Moran made the soup and was on site in the evening and next morning to help ensure security and safety for all.  Asked why she had volunteered for the sleepout, Linda said, “I thought it would be a good way to really be part of the Winter Appeal, not only by donating items.  I don’t think many of us really know how it must feel to have no proper bed or even to be sure of where our next meal is coming from”.

Rachel agreed.  “I think everyone who spent the night at school went home appreciating how lucky most of us are.”

Mrs Briony Mowbray, Assistant Religious Education Leader of Learning at Emmaus Catholic College commended the students for their generosity and mature attitude.  “There are already students signed up for next year’s Winter Sleepout”, she said, thanking parents for their support and the Emmaus staff members whose energy and enthusiastic help made the evening a big success.

The Winter Appeal at Emmaus is continuing with many donations arriving daily, comprising clothing, bedding and footwear.

Aline Lyons

Sleep over 2

Written By

Laraine Lawton

Laraine Lawton
Emmaus Catholic College

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