JT’s coronavirus message to Aussie kids
JONATHAN Thurston has told kids it is OK to "feel a bit weird" about the coronavirus but to "believe" in themselves and keep doing their school work.
The NRL legend recently went to great lengths to ensure indigenous students in three remote communities from North Queensland to the Torres Strait Islands are not cut off from any contact if their schools close during the global pandemic.
Through his JTAcademy, Thurston works with students from schools within indigenous communities on Thursday Island in the Torres Strait, Kowanyama on the far west Coast of Cape York and Yarrabah which is about 53 kilometres from Cairns.
He personally called on the NBN and Skytrans, which helped install a satellite system within 48 hours, so his academy could send personal daily messages and school lessons.
Thurston will also be regularly talking to students from his Townsville home.
In his first online video chat, Thurston stressed how important education was and told them to keep learning.
"With all this talk about lockdowns or community and school shutdowns it all might feel a little bit weird at the moment," he said.
"But that's OK. Even us grown-ups are a little weirded out by it.
"But I want you to know, we are all going to be OK.
"We're in this together.
"Education is really important.
"I want you to believe in yourself and keep learning every day."
Thurston also told them to keep up their hygiene by simply washing their hands.
"I need you to listen carefully when I say this," he said.
"Keep washing your hands really good with soap.
"Lots of showers, lots of soap and washing hands all the time.
"Please do that for me."
Thurston's JTAcademy has been running his programs with these communities for more than two years, which have led to 91 per cent school attendance in some cases.
The remote communities take part in the academy's JTBelieve programs, funded by the Australian Government's Indigenous Advancement Strategy.
"I fear for our kids if they become cut off from society and I want to ensure they don't feel abandoned," Thurston told News Corp.
"As a result of our programs, which work hand-in-hand with the local elders and Council bodies, the kids in these communities are fully engaged, more confident, taking part in more extra-curricular activities, but I am worried that this will suffer if their schools are closed.
"The impact of that on the kids could be quite devastating.
"These communities already feel a sense of isolation and I am concerned how quickly this could escalate to wider community health and wellbeing concerns."
Originally published as JT's coronavirus message to Aussie kids