Taronga Western Plains Zoo welcomed a group of 170 girls and their development officers from 10 Girls Academies across NSW on Wednesday, who enjoyed a day of cultural activities and sightseeing.
The Girls Academy develops and empowers Aboriginal girls through leadership training, mentoring, sport and extra-curricular programs. The event “Migay-Galang-Dabaamalang” was the first annual showcase, and included a three-day leadership camp and League-Tag Tournament for the girls, who came from Dubbo, Coonamble, Melville, Kempsey, Muswellbrook, Tamworth and Gunnedah.
Whilst at the Zoo the girls took part in cultural artistic activities at the Zoo’s Sand Circle, and also participated in a Smoking Ceremony performed by Uncle Ralph Naden and Aunty Di McNaboe.
Senior Education officer Rebecca Nielsen said an important part of the day was a gathering at Billabong Camp where the girls, in their school groups, presented coolamons that they had created and designed.
“Representatives from each school group spoke about their Coolamon design and the stories they told,” Rebecca said.
“It was a really nice way to wrap up the day, and the program, and just brought everything together so well. Through the program the girls got a real sense of the strength of connection and the strength of women. We hope they were inspired by each other, by their elders and by their mentors, the wonderful women who led the program.”
A chance to explore the Zoo on what was a warm, sunny day was also another highlight for the girls.
Taronga Western Plains Zoo is proud to support this important cultural event for the NSW Girls Academy, as part of several community education programs here at the Zoo.