Creating ripples of change at PLC Perth

A new flagship program at PLC Perth is encouraging its students to redefine leadership and understand that they do not need a badge to be a leader.

Forming part of the school’s wellbeing curriculum, the program is called Ripples and Waves – a nod to the famous quote by Mother Teresa: “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

Principal Cate Begbie said she wanted every PLC student to realise that they can be the change, no matter how small or big their impact.

Ms Begbie said traditionally PLC provided leadership opportunities to girls. “Perhaps 10 to 15 per cent of each cohort may take on those roles,” she said. “It is my dream that this program will make every one of our girls aware that she can be heard and that she can be a leader.

“As a primary school teacher, I know that every young girl starts life believing in herself and dreaming big. For some reason, in some girls, this seems to waiver as they get older. This program aims to harness that self-belief and make all young women realise that they are important, and they can have a positive impact. This could be locally, within her friendship group, at her sports club or it could be bigger if that is what she chooses.”

PLC Perth has collaborated with international humanitarian, leadership consultant and best-selling author Rabia Siddique to develop Ripples and Waves, which in its first year will be delivered to Year 9 students before being rolled out in different forms across the school.

Ms Siddique said the program would challenge and inspire students by exposing them to communities, environments and stories which give them new perspectives and test their thinking.

“The girls will not be passive observers in this programme,” Ms Siddique said. “They will be working closely with people from disadvantaged backgrounds, helping those who are passionate about improving our environment and working with people who have dedicated their lives to improving the lives of others.”

PLC has formed partnerships with three not-for-profit agencies which will offer students opportunities to form enduring relationships with each of them. Students will become extensively involved in the agencies’ work and be a part of their mission for positive change.

The partnerships will be with Ishar Multicultural Women’s Health Centre, Museum for Freedom and Tolerance and Plastic Free July –agencies selected for their social justice commitment and environmental awareness.

Ishar provides a range of health services to women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds; the Museum of Freedom of Tolerance aims to dismantle prejudice and discrimination through art, history, technology and storytelling to promote tolerance and social cohesion; and Plastic Free July is a global movement against plastic pollution and single-use plastics.

“Our partnership with these agencies will see every girl experience service learning through a social justice lens,” Ms Begbie said. “It is my hope that every PLC girl will discover that the personal rewards they get from giving are as great, if not greater, as the act of giving itself.

“What Ripples and Waves will do is give girls an enduring connection and understanding of these groups’ needs, which goes well beyond raising funds at a cupcake stand or a gold coin donation.”

Throughout the term-long programme, students will also be guided by eight experts whose life experiences may shock, inspire and challenge their own view of life. The experts include a Somalian refugee who now advises the World Economic Forum in Geneva about risks posed by climate change and wealth inequality and a Paralympian born without a right leg who was inspired by his sister’s cancer diagnosis to learn to run.

Ms Siddique said Ripples and Waves would foster in students a genuine desire and interest in serving others and building respectful relationships with people from other communities and backgrounds. “It will push them and challenge them, and I believe Ripples and Waves will quite literally change these girls’ lives for the better.”

Ms Begbie said the exciting thing about Ripples and Waves was that it would show girls that they don’t need a badge to be a leader.

“We already have girls at PLC who are passionate about the environment, humanity and making a difference. Ripples and Waves will give them a pathway to make their dreams a reality. It will help them to get involved in the local community, make a local difference or, who knows, even a global difference.

“Ripples and Waves will truly show that PLC Perth is a school with a social conscience.”