Townsville ‘Sky’s the limit’ program kicks goals in early intervention

A sport-based early intervention program has boosted school attendance and academics at local schools in Townsville, combining learning activities with training exercises and games to engage at-risk youth.

‘Sky’s the limit’ is a joint program between Queensland Police Service and Department of Education and is delivered in conjunction with the Mendi Blackhawks Rugby League Football Club.

Every Tuesday morning during school hours, selected students participate in sessions facilitated by police officers from the Upper Ross Police Facility alongside staff and players from the Mendi Townsville and District Blackhawks.

Students work through workbooks that cover various topics such as mathematics, reading, English, diet and exercise, before taking part in physical activities such as touch football, softball, or basketball.

The interactive sessions allow students to receive guidance and assistance from both police officers and rugby league players.

The program is designed for primary school aged students to focus on the importance of engaging with school, healthy living and positive lifestyle choices. To qualify for the program, students are required to demonstrate improved attendance rates, attitudes towards schoolwork, and interactions with peers and teachers.

Initially launched in Rasmussen State School in 2018, the program has now expanded to include Weir State School, Vincent State School, and Carinity Education Shalom, providing further support and education to students.

Presents at school for Sky's the Limit youth program.

Upper Ross Police Facility officer-in-charge Sergeant Matthew Dixon said the program has been hugely successful, with a notable improvement in attendance rates of students.

“Many of the children involved are classified as vulnerable or at-risk, often coming from unstable home environments. By providing a structured and supportive environment, we are able to engage with these kids and encourage them to focus on their schooling and to take part in physical activity,” he said.

“It also provides police with an opportunity to interact with children in a positive manner to build trust.

“One student, who was at crossroads in her education, was identified and accepted in the program and 18 months later was elected as a school leader.

“We work closely with the Mendi Townsville and District Blackhawks and their corporate partner Brothers Leagues Club Townsville to facilitate the program.

“This year, the program is being coordinated by former Australian Rugby League and North Queensland Cowboys player and current Blackhawks player James Tamou.

“The importance of having players that the students can identify and see as a role model is critical to the success of ‘Sky’s the limit’.”

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