Aug 4th, 2021 08/04/21 | Community Stories

Keeping Pace

Students from Christ Church Grammar School in Australia have just raised $22,743 (and rising) for CCF from their annual charity lapathon, now its ninth year

When it comes to fundraising for CCF, the boys from the Preparatory School at Christ Church Grammar School (CCGS) could be said to be running rings around others. Quite literally.

For nine years, the students at the school in Western Australia have been taking part in a charity lapathon, running around an oval-shaped space to raise money for CCF, sponsored every step of the way by family and friends.

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Boys from the Preparatory School at Christ Church Grammar School taking part in the lapathon

This year’s lapathon held in June has so far already raised an impressive AUD $22,743 (USD $17,244). Every dollar of which will go directly to CCF to help needy children and families living in one of the most impoverished parts of Cambodia.

In total, the nine lapathons have raised the outstanding amount of AUD $251,,432 (USD $187,281).

When the first CCGS lapathon was held back in 2013 it was a project for only Years 1 and 2 at the Preparatory School.

It was then extended to the whole Preparatory School and in 2016 became the charity of choice for its annual fundraiser by the school’s Kerala House.

Several of the Preparatory School teachers have been instrumental in driving the lapathon and making it the success that it is today.

Every pupil, aged from five to 11 years old, is asked to take part. Each participant runs for half an hour - stopping for breaks if needed - around a 400m oval sports field.

Boys are asked to find sponsors such as family, friends, and neighbours or raise money themselves to donate. Sponsors can donate a specified amount per lap the boys run or just a one-off donation.

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A Christ Church Grammar School student taking part in the lapathon
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I remind the boys that just $5 can buy a bag of rice that can feed a Cambodian family for one week or a month.

— Mark Tait, Christ Church Grammar School’s Director of Service in Action

For inspiration, CCGS’s Director of Service in Action Mark Tait speaks to students about the difference their sponsor money will make.

“I speak to the boys about why they’re raising money. I show them photos of children at CCF studying using the devices that the money bought so they can see the impact,” says Mark.

“I always try to compare it to their school and show them the classrooms that the CCF children have.

“We’ve also got five or six staff [at the school] who’ve been to Cambodia and CCF so they have firsthand experience of what it’s like and how the money raised can make a difference.”

When spirits are flagging during the actual event and some boys might feel like giving up, Mark has the perfect motivation.

“I remind the boys that just $5 can buy a bag of rice that can feed a Cambodian family for one week or a month. So if they’re being sponsored for $5 a lap and they get tired, they can think about that, and do another lap to raise another $5 to feed a family.”

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It's inspiring that such a young group of boys - still in prep school - would give their time and energy to raise funds for the poorest children here

— Scott Neeson, CCF Founder and Executive Director

Donations from this year’s lapathon are still rolling in and could hit the AUD $30,000 (US $22,470) target.

Money from previous lapathons have been used to purchase 65 new and second hand iPads for CCF students to use for their studies and use online learning tools.

The rest of the funds have been used for CCF’s award-winning Education Program, ensuring that every child has the opportunity to go to school and their families are given support to enable them to remain in the classroom.

“It's inspiring that such a young group of boys - still in prep school - would give their time and energy to raise funds for the poorest children here,” says Scott Neeson, CCF Founder and Executive Director.

“It speaks to the culture of Christ Church Grammar School that for nine consecutive years, their students have committed to help those who would otherwise have no chance at an education."

CCGS, which is based in Perth, has been supporting CCF for many years - and the connection is making a difference on both sides.

While CCGS’s donations are transforming lives in Cambodia, older pupils at the school have the chance to visit CCF in Phnom Penh as part of the Service in Action (SIA) program, which inspires boys to help others less fortunate and experience the transformational impact of a new culture.

This experience is shared with girls from the Perth-based St Mary’s Anglican Girls’ School, who also take part in the service trips to Cambodia and are passionate fundraisers for CCF.

L: TOP: Students from Christ Church Grammar School and St Mary’s Anglican Girls’ School at CCF

In Cambodia, living on or below the poverty line can mean a daily struggle to have enough to eat.

“Each child gets something different out of it,” says Mark Tait from CCGS, who oversees the SIA trips and has visited CCF several times with the school.

“I remember one boy [who had been on the trip to CCF] speaking to me after Christmas and saying he had been in Coles (a supermarket chain) and saw all these people with their trolley pulled high with stuff, he said it just made him sick to the stomach because he’d just come from Cambodia.

“It’s affected me too. I now think about the amount of food I waste.”

Mark Tait, centre, from Christ Church Grammar School with CCF Founder Scott Neeson second right

Some of the Preparatory School boys who take part in the lapathon become so engaged by the CCF cause that they go on to sign up for the SIA trip to Cambodia when older and in the senior school.

The last CCGS and St Mary’s SIA trip to Cambodia was in 2019 with COVID curtailing the last two years.

Mark Tait is hopeful the trips will resume at the end of next year in 2022 but says that 2023 might be more realistic.

CCGS’ contributions to CCF have extended well beyond the lapathon, thanks to the generosity of students, teachers and parents and the CCGS community making donations.

Others have signed up to CCF’s Child Sponsorship Program (click here for details) a unique opportunity to sponsor and form a close bond with a CCF child or granny.

Transcending country and culture, the special relationship between CCGS, St Mary’s and CCF has also forged a close bond, bringing together children and teachers from contrasting worlds, who, despite their differences, find common ground.

Written by

Kate Ginn


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