Social distancing, remote learning and the restraints of COVID-19 have not stopped our school communities from seeking ways to stay connected. One initiative is 'Growing Together Through COVID-19' which has been introduced at Holy Family Ingleburn and Stella Maris Shellharbour.
'Growing Together Through COVID-19' is the brainchild of Grant Dodds who is the school chaplain at both schools (pastoral support coordinator for CatholicCare's chaplaincy program). The project encourages participants to plant a new flower/shrub/herb and to take weekly photos of it and send it to Grant who produces a weekly collage to show how each school community is growing together. The initiative is open to school staff, students and their families.
At the conclusion of COVID-19 participants have three choices:
- Keep growing their plant at home as a constant reminder of how the school community was unified during hard times
- Replant their plant in a school garden to commemorate that unity
- Pot their plants to donate to people they couldn’t see face to face during COVID-19
Grant said the inspiration for the project came to him when he was brainstorming Mini Vinnies activities and wanted a project that would sit nicely alongside another project, the 'Driveway Messages of Hope' done in chalk.
Whereas the chalk messages were designed for students to complete, Grant said he wanted a project that would "grow with each community as we journeyed together, with a tangible sign of life at the end in the form of God's creation in plants"."The thinking is that where there is hope there is life, and that there will be life beyond COVID-19. Any journey is so much more rewarding when it is experienced along with others," Grant explained.