This was published in NT Sun Newspapers on April 16 2019 under the title Games to give kids’ experience.

It is wonderful that the Arafura Games are back and will take place between April 26 and May 4 this year.

When the games were discontinued in 2012, an outstanding learning opportunity for territory school students was lost.

From their inception in 1996 until the last games in 2011, the Arafura’s offered our schools some quite special and unique experiences. To have the games restored after eight years of absence will reinstate some of these benefits for both school students and our community.

During previous games, students from some of our schools had the opportunity to participate in the colour and spectacle of opening ceremonies. While this opportunity will not be part of the 2019 program, many will have the chance to join in as spectators when the games are formally launched. This will heighten awareness about our neighbouring countries and competitors.

The reinstatement of the games will stimulate interest in participating countries and their populations. Social and cultural education is always enhanced when students have the opportunity for first hand awareness of our geographical neighbours.

Study of language and culture is always boosted by events of this nature. Suddenly our neighbours become closer with an understanding of their situations more purposeful and relevant.

Some schools organised mini Olympics or sports extravaganzas to coincide with the Arafura Games taking place in Darwin. The focus was often on sports included in the program. The games return may well stimulate the rebirth of this activity.

The organisation of visits to schools by athletes or representatives from visiting countries during the games can be a highlight. So too is the adoption of countries by schools . These activities build relationships, empathy and cross cultural understanding.

Confidence, awareness and the understanding of many older students is enhanced through some volunteer work they undertake during the games.

With volunteers being welcome to offer support after school hours and at weekends, this is complimentary and does not have to conflict with school day activities.

The Arafura Games lead to the development of friendships between Darwin families and people coming to our city as athletes, officials or team supporters for the games. This has been a positive outcome emanating from each of the programs that have taken place.

The games confirm the worth of competition being offered to athletes from neighbouring countries with the program bolstered by Australian competitors. Sportspeople are recognised and appreciated for offering enjoyment through their participation. The Arafuras are the friendly games, acting as a catalyst in building understanding and relationships. May their reinstatement be a permanent feature of Territory life.

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