Teenagers are learning to become healthy men through a unique initiative at Blacktown Boys High School.
The school suspended normal classes for an entire day last week to observe its third annual men’s health day.
The morning started with a White Ribbon presentation by Blacktown Police Commander Gary Merryweather, followed by a smoking ceremony led by Aboriginal elder Wes Marne.
Uncle Wes spoke about the students’ obligation to look after each other and the environment.
Physical, mental and emotional health was the focus of the day with activities ranging from sport to music, science, hospitality and gardening.
The event was the brainchild of Creative and Performing Arts head teacher Kate Burne – “the heart and soul of the school”, according to principal Shaun Addy.
He said this year saw the realisation of her vision to have senior students organise and run the events.
“They stepped up and showed a level of maturity I haven’t seen among year 11 boys,” Mr Addy said.
“It brought them to the fore as real leaders in the school, and it brought them closer to the staff.”
School prefect Utkarsh Sharma said he enjoyed seeing all the students get engaged with everything from basketball to Bollywood.
“This year we had new ideas and new opportunities for the younger students,” he said.
“It was all about promoting physical mental health, and giving them confidence and encouragement.”
Vice captain Kalolo Matavesi said the highlight was seeing every student enjoy themselves and get involved.
“All day they were meeting students from other years and socialising with everyone,” he said.
Mr Addy said the day was great for the wellbeing and morale of the entire school body. He was encouraged to see new teachers embrace the energy and culture of the school.
“I’ve got great staff but I’ve never seen them as happy and engaged,” he said. “It was a joy to be principal. I was really proud of them.”
Mr Addy said the visitors on the day, including African drummers and Sydney Thunder, were also “genuinely impressed”.