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Crows swoop in on goodwill mission to Whyalla

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Whyalla’s steelmaking future may be under a cloud, but the uncertainty has steeled the philanthropic spirit of South Australians, with the Adelaide Football Club fast-tracking a planned spate of school visits by its community wing.

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CEO Andrew Fagan told InDaily that when Arrium’s travails reached a flashpoint in recent days, “it just made sense to get up there as quickly as possible, to get our community team into some cars and into the trenches to Whyalla”.

The club’s schools program, “Growing with Gratitude”, was first rolled out in classrooms across Adelaide last year, but the club has broadened its focus to regional SA in 2016.

It’s designed to buoy mental health in school children, emphasising healthy “thoughts and habits” and highlighting “an attitude of gratitude”, along with traits such as kindness, positive reflection and wellbeing.

“It was something that was in the pipeline, but we brought it forward given the events in Whyalla, and also the nature of this program,” Fagan said.

“This is teaching children certain skills as early as possible to create greater resilience, positive thoughts and habits [so] the core purpose of the program can continue to help ensure that the children are in a good headspace.”

The club took the program to eight schools across three days this week, preaching its wellbeing message to more than 1600 children.

“There’s an appreciation of the pressure that many families in the community are facing and, for the kids themselves, they enjoy having the association with the program,” Fagan said.

While the program’s efficacy is not independently assessed, Fagan argues the feedback from teachers and students “has been extraordinary”, citing long-term benefits and ongoing involvement through an online interface.

“This was our first trip to Whyalla – it won’t be our last,” he said.

“We may also have some opportunity to maybe bring some people down to our games when we play a home game through the season, to give them an Adelaide Oval experience.”

He said many schools were chosen for the program after registering interest with the club, but “there’s a conscious effort as well to ensure we’re delivering right across our state [so] we’ll continue to access a greater number of regional areas this year and next”.

“We spend a lot of time being strategic and practical in our business, but when it comes to community programs we’re about embracing South Australia… and try and just bring some enjoyment to the kids,” he said.

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