Dyldam Parramatta Eels halfback Chris Sandow with NRL School to Work Program students Kendall Wilson

The Dyldam Parramatta Eels along with the NRL School to Work Program (S2W) selected four young students earlier in the year to participate in the 2015 All Stars Indigenous Youth Summit held in conjunction with the Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars on the Gold Coast last month.

The students selected, Kendall Wilson, Cheyenne Cruse and Travis Dargan from All Saints Catholic Senior College Casula and Jaydon Lonergon from Westfield’s Sports High School participated in a 4-day education, culture and aspirational experience which was also attended by Eels players including Beau Champion and Eels NYC squad members Tyrell Fuimaono and Bevan French.

Last week, Wilson, Cruse and Longergon returned to the Eels office to meet with Eels halfback Chris Sandow.

Belinda Solomon, Aboriginal Project Officer – NRL School to Work Program, is heavily involved with the students, meeting with them on a fortnightly basis to pass on important messages about education and employment.

“It is a great pleasure working in the program,” Solomon said.

“I am able to mentor, encourage and motivate the students to do their best and build on a successful future,”

“In the end, when we spend that time with the kids for the duration of the program (Years 10 to 12), it is definitely rewarding when you see the goals of past students come to fruition.”

The students spent part of the 4-day Youth Summit with NRL players and other young leaders, interacting through a series of workshops, activities and discussions, and Solomon knows the importance this had on the students.

“It is really nice that they get to have such role models to be able to sell such an important message about education and employment and how it improves their lives,” Solomon said.

“These students learn so much, especially when it comes from certain Aboriginal players that want to be there to be able to pass that message” Solomon added.

The NRL School To Work Program (S2W) is an education and employment program that utilises the positive profile of the game of Rugby League to support and encourage young Indigenous Australians from Western Sydney to stay at school, get a job, and be a legend for themselves, their families and their communities.

A combined initiative of the Parramatta Eels, Canterbury Bulldogs, Penrith Panthers, Wests Tigers, the Australian Government’s Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and the National Rugby League; S2W provides young Indigenous Australians with work experience, mentoring and leadership opportunities to ensure they successfully complete school and transition into further study, training or meaningful employment.