Published On: 8 September 2021Categories: Stories

UNO and lightsabers are as important as toast and Milo at the Devonport High School breakfast club.

The twice-weekly gatherings are as much about socialising as eating for the 30 students who drop in on Tuesdays between 8am and 8:45am.

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The students wander in, sleepy and slightly dishevelled, worn backpacks slung over one shoulder. They make a Milo, grab a breakfast bar, or toasted sandwich, or head straight to a familiar face.

Two students are involved in an animated lightsaber battle while a dozen other students are involved in spirited games of UNO. There’s plenty of laughter, and cheating.

Breakfast club is a tribe, a place to belong, a safe space where all are welcome.

Chaplain Darra Boerma said the breakfast club “sets them up for the day”.

“You can build a deeper relationship in a social atmosphere like a breakfast club than you can in a classroom,” he said.

Breakfast club is Switzerland

There’s an ease and a comfort that comes from familiarity and consistency. There isn’t a teacher or a bully in sight. Breakfast club is Switzerland.

“One of the pleasing things is to see students who were withdrawn at the beginning now joining in and becoming engaged,” Darra said.

Volunteer Gordon Kelly said he was surprised at how open the students were about what’s happening in their lives.

Gordon, who is on the board of Devonport Chaplaincy, said it was easy to pray for kids, but much harder to get involved.

“Darra is also a member of a church and a friend, and so I wanted to support him as well as getting involved with the students,” he said.

“I love how Darra blends seamlessly into the background; that he’s not the star attraction, yet is so engaged and accessible.”

Breakfast club restarted earlier this year, partly as a result of student demand.

“We could have breakfast club every day if we had more volunteers,” Dara said with a twinge of disappointment.

“Gordon helps on Tuesdays and my wife Cathrin helps on a Thursday.

“You need at least two people.

“We purposely set up the breakfast foods and then get out of the kitchen and interact with the kids.”

It helps that Darra genuinely cares and has a childlikeness that extends to being a passionate “Trekkie”.

He also knows some students never get breakfast at home.

“We take some of the breakfast foods up to the office where it’s used to make toasties for students who have come to school without any lunch.”

The Devonport breakfast club is one of 16 programs managed by Devonport Chaplaincy in the State’s North-West.


By Paul O’Rourke

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