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05 August 2020
BY DYLAN DE JONG
A Wimmera cycling enthusiast is embarking on a 365-day challenge to ride his bike 5000 kilometres to raise money to expand a community project.
Anglican Parish of Warracknabeal reverend James Wood has set off on a year-long challenge to raise $25,000 for a purpose-built ‘Boys’ Shed’ in the town.
A Boys’ Shed, similar to Men’s Sheds, is a place where boys can learn and experiment in woodwork as an opportunity to ‘grow into strong, thoughtful and self-confident young men’.
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The concept for Warracknabeal came after Mr Wood moved to the region from Queanbeyan, New South Wales, where he was helping a school with the same program more than two years ago.
He said he wanted kick-start the program in Warracknabeal to engage young men and decided to create a community shed in his garage.
“I think there’s a need for this across the board – the Boys’ Shed is a really simple concept. It’s about creating a space where boys can experiment and explore,” he said.
In raising money for the program, Mr Wood plans to ride at least 100km each week and will regularly update his journey on Instagram and YouTube.
He said although he was a conditioned cyclist, he knew he had a long road ahead of him.
“I was a mountain biker when I was living in Queanbeyan but became a road rider when I moved to Warracknabeal,” he said.
“Since January this year, I was already riding roughly 90 kilometres a week but that last 10 to 15 kilometres is a real challenge because I have to get on the bike a few extra times a week.
“I go on rides every Saturday with friends, but this takes it to another level – finding the time, space and working with the weather.”
Mr Wood plans to expand on the Boys’ Shed program to further nurture a culture of encouragement, co-operation and social responsibility.
All activities at the Boys’ Shed were called off during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Mr Wood said he hoped his cycling efforts would help expand and boost awareness of the program.
He said a purpose-built shed would allow more boys to get involved to meet a growing need within Warracknabeal and surrounding communities.
“For the practical side of the program we use wooden pallets, hand tools and minimal power tools – it gives an opportunity to create something with their hands,” he said.
“The boys might realise it takes more patience and persistence to make a box, a bike ramp or bookshelf than they initially thought.”
Mr Wood said participants had the opportunity to learn key life skills they might miss out on at home.
“It’s fundamental to create a space where the boys grow respect for themself, women, elders, the tools they use and to create a space to make a project of their own with support and encouragement in a safe environment,” he said.
“Participants can be themselves – this is really important, where there is no judgement or barriers and a really good code of ethics.
“Everyone has a right to be there. “Hopefully this will equip boys to get on with it, dream and create.”
The Boys’ Shed is part of the parish’s five-year plan, ‘Regenerate’, to renew people, revive projects and restore place.
“I’ve been living in Warracknabeal for two-and-a-half years as priest of the church. I was concerned over the two-and-a-half years what direction we should take for the future,” Mr Wood said.
“Part of this is about regaining confidence in the church, but my sole mission is to build a strong community.”
Mr Wood said he hoped $25,000 would cover at least half the costs involved in building a new shed.
People can donate to his cause ‘Rev’s Revolution’ at: https://www.warrack
The entire August 5, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!