How’s the serenity?

It started when some local dads cleared old furniture out of a shed at Dandenong West Primary School.

Opening recently, the school’s “Community Castle” is built by the community, for the community.

A central point for new migrants, the school has children from hundreds of different countries and over 50 languages other than English are spoken at home.

Using the empty space to run a Men’s Group to repair old BMX bicycles, Dads would tinker and talk with their children.

Its popularity turned into a vision to have a place for the community to come together, talk, and create.

Ivan Araujo is the school’s youth worker and says it’s been a labour of love from volunteers and dads, together with a with DHHS refurbishment grant, and an online crowd funding campaign.

“The men and I decided to call it the Community Castle because we wanted it to be used by women and children too for socialising and learning“, says Mr Araujo.

The school’s existing Community Hub focuses primarily on supporting women with young children, this project brings in men as well to get involved and share skills.

Most of the refurbishment work was done by in-kind labour from professional tradesmen, fathers, and community members, with donations from Masters.

School Principal Bev Hansen says the project has helped them to bond together and feel connected to their new community.

“We provide opportunities for students, parents, carers, and the wider community to be involved with the school”, says Ms Hansen.

“We have used the Community Castle for social skill development, peer to peer mentoring programs, STEM activities with staff and students and of course, the men’s group”.

As the doors officially opened, families immediately set to work with raw materials and tools, woodworking together to make pencil boxes.

“You don’t go finding people who believe in what you have, you meet people who believe in what you can become”, says Mr Araujo.

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