The SPARK Program aims to support and focus on children and families offering a suite of program initiatives across two main program components, Bright Sparks and Community Sparks, as well as partner with school, community, and government, to enhance support and build capacity.
Children 0- 5
An early learning and development program aimed at engaging children in learning through play. Little Sparks currently runs alongside SPARK parent programs and workshops.
Children 5 – 12
Bright Sparks is a program for newly arrived children transitioning into primary school. The Bright Sparks Program Learning Club includes academic, social, language and recreational activities, designed to support children in their settlement. Activities are based in SPARK’s partner schools, outside of regular class time, and are facilitated by trained volunteers and school staff.
Bright Sparks Tutor
An intensive tutoring program for newly arrived children who require significant academic and social support to prepare them for high school. In Bright Sparks Tutor children work through a learning plan with a skilled volunteer. The children’s learning plan is developed by SPARK and their classroom teacher to address their individual academic and social development needs.
At the end of each school term all Bright Sparks children participate in a recreational session facilitated by volunteers. In Bright Sparks Active sessions children participate in craft, art, sports, music, and drama activities. These activities are designed to develop non-academic skills, develop interests, build self-esteem and encourage enjoyment in
Sparkle is a focused initiative targeting vulnerable children who arrive or enter into Year 5 or Year 6 and need focussed support to prepare them for High School through workshops and activities based on developing social skills, aspiration building, and learning skills.
Aimed at children who may be disadvantaged, have trouble accessing sports clubs or facilities or would greatly benefit from a welcoming, fun, non-competitive and team-based environment. Active Zone is a 6 week program that includes a range of different sports and energetic activities that focus on team work, resilience, healthy living and leadership.
Circus – Under One Big Top
SPARK partners with Candy Stripes Circus to provide a series of circus skills workshops designed to support relationships between newly arrived students and their settled peers. Candy Stripes Circus engages an entire year group or school in workshops facilitated by professional circus members, SPARK volunteers and school staff. Children develop their communication, team work, and interpersonal skills whilst engaging in fun activities such as juggling, hula hoops, and spinning plates. Candy Stripes Circus workshops culminate in children using their newfound circus skills to create a performance for family, friends and school community to come and see.
Community Sparks Parent Groups
Weekly activities open to all parents in the school community and facilitated by SPARK volunteers and school supports. Activities are diverse, including skill building, settlement support, English language and social groups. Community Sparks Parent Groups aim to build social connection and increase community participation.
Each term SPARK facilitates an excursion to a location of interest in Sydney, all parents in the school community and their pre-school aged children are invited. Past excursions include visiting NSW Parliament House, a picnic at Manly beach, and a walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. These excursions provide an opportunity for parents to meet and connect with other parents in the school community, for many it is also an opportunity to discover new experiences in Sydney.
Parents as School Supports (PASS) is a series of workshops that aim to assist newly arrived parents in applying their skills and knowledge to support their children’s learning. School staff, SPARK volunteers and bi-lingual supports are engaged in facilitating the workshops and creating an environment where parents can meet and build relationships with a diverse set of members of the school community.
A free, weekly, pop-up library SPARK’s Bilingual Book Club is run in select primary schools. The Bilingual Book Club promotes the benefits of reading and literacy while offering parents an opportunity to borrow and read books in their own language as well as English. The Club promotes the benefits of bilingualism and encourages parents to read to children in their native tongue. SPARK currently have hundreds of books in over twenty languages.
SPARK partners with Joining The Dots, The Welcome Dinner Project to host social school events where parents new to Australia can meet and build connection with settled families and other members of the school community.
SPARK engages with schools, universities and other organisations to raise awareness of the challenges faced by asylum seekers and refugees. In raising awareness, we hope to build knowledge not only of challenges faced but of the ways in which individuals and organisations can actively support the newly arrived community.
Community Capacity Building
SPARK work with and provide training to a large team of bilingual workers, Community Liaison Officers, School Support Officers, teachers and community members. In the past we have run First Aid Training, Listening and Responding Training and Referral and Assessment training to build the capacity of local members of the community.
SPARK also partners with different community groups and organisations to run events that support both newly arrived and established families and the wider community. For a full list of partners please visit our Partners Page.