St Christopher’s looks to special needs

Kairos Volume 24, Issue 7

Words Renae Gentile    
Picture Elizabeth Moran

IN 2011, Kairos Catholic Journal reprinted a story from the Columbans’ Missionary Society about St Christopher’s School, Airport West, and its support of its sister school Manuel Duato, a school for underprivileged and special needs students in Lima, Peru.

The story covered the purchase of an all-needs bus for the Lima school, to enable students who normally travelled for many hours to get to school with ease.

St Christopher’s is proud of its community spirit and sense of Catholic social justice. In a recent campaign to raise awareness and focus on the four fundamentals of Catholic social teaching, our focus at St Christopher’s has been to turn that teaching into action.

The school has focused on human dignity (respect for all life), subsidiarity (beginning the changes from home, starting small, and local, in our school yard), solidarity (sticking together and working together as one) and charity (loving one another: helping people up, not helping them out). The school sees it as important that the link with the Manuel Duato community in Lima be understood as more than an organisation to which we donate.

Building a sister school relationship, and nurturing that relationship, has been the aim of Project Manuel Duato since its inception. Learning about the plight of students and teachers at the special needs school in an area of Lima that suffers extreme poverty has been eye-opening.

Recently, one of our parents came up with an idea that helped us to work on solidarity. T-shirts were ordered by our community in our school house colours with the slogan ‘Team Duato: Two Schools, One Family’.

Students from St Christopher’s wore the t-shirts on a recent twilight sports day, and will do so at various times throughout the year. The sense of community and unity that these t-shirts brought to the school was priceless.
An added bonus was that all proceeds from the sale of the t-shirts went to Manuel Duato.

With two staff from St Christopher’s planning to visit Peru again in September this year (our last visit was in 2010), our school will continue to commit to the four principles of Catholic social teaching in an effort to bring about true social justice. We want our students to go out into the world asking, ‘what can I do for it?’ rather than ‘what can the world do for me?’

To support this wonderful Peruvian school for special needs (predominantly Down syndrome) and underprivileged kids, please contact: teachers Renae Gentile or Elizabeth Moran