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Croc Fest!!

Written on: Wednesday August 8th, 2007

A journal entry from: Elective

So Wednesday was the big day - the day the festival kicked off. Meeting at the Community Health Centre at quarter to eight was an annoyingly early start, but a necessary evil, as we needed to get to the race course and set up before half past eight. We were ridiculously over-excited to be given official 'croc fest facilitator' T-shirts, and wristbands to say that we were helping out. Not so excited when it became clear that we were expected to wear silly headgear to entertain the kids. Hmph.

We made our way to the racecourse, and began to set up our stall in the pavillion. It didn't take much doing, as the health team had been a little bit behind with organisation, so ours was very basic. We had posters tacked up on the walls, two huge banners to advertise our No Smoking campaign, and a TV to play our video. We made the table that the TV was standing on look a little bit prettier, decorating it with stickers and our never-ending stash of badges. Once everything was set up, we sat anxiously, waiting for the first bunch of children to pile in.

As the children began to move around the racecourse, we got our first group. Dividing them up into three smaller, more manageable groups, we set off with our spiel for the first time. To begin with, Ruth lead the discussion, and we were just in charge of starting the video at the right time and making sure everyone received their stickers and badges. The video featured 'Jabby', an old Aboriginal guy, who the kids would supposedly identify with. They seemed to find it amusing anyway, and the images of fat-clogged aortas, and rotting lungs drew the expected gasps and groans from the crowd. Once we had obtained an idea of what the necessary information was, Ruth offered us a go at presenting. I decided I'd be brave, and having taught before I figured that it shouldn't be that hard, so I put myself up for the task.

The group that came in for the next session made my job very easy, answering all my questions, and not leaving me with very much to say at all - jackpot! Basically, the session involved encouraging the kids to tell us what they already knew about smoking, rewarding them with bubbles for correct answers, showing them the video, and then discussing passive smoking with them. We had plenty of props, and the poster that we'd produced quickly made it's uses known, as we could incorporate that into why smoking was bad, showing the children what sorts of things were in cigarettes. They loved it! I found it very rewarding to stand at the front and teach, and it was a great confidence boost.

Overall, we saw around 15 groups throughout the day, and the facilitators finished at half past one while the kids stayed on until four o clock, practicing for the evening show. We hitched a ride back into town with the staff, and then spent the afternoon relaxing as usual, in preparation for the evening's festivities, which we were very excited about.

Kicking off at six-thirty, the show featured children from various schools performing dances, with intervals for government funded video clips, depicting how amazing the Croc Festival is, and why it's so great for the kids. The propaganda grew tiresome quickly, but the children's performances were absolutely fantastic. Each school had prepared a set; some telling a story, others just dancing, some with props and backgrounds, the list is endless. One school did an ingenious performance mixing old, traditional Aboriginal dance, with new, very modern hip-hop, and they had a little dance-off, before all joining together to show that we are still all the same. It was incredible, and the children were hamming it up for the enthusiastic audience. They even ripped off the Star Wars opening credits, to tell a story before they began dancing, and the didgeridoo soundtrack mixed in with clips from the Bomfunk MC's 'Freestyler' was perfect for the cause.

Another outstanding performance came from the Indigenous Hip-Hop Project, who got a load of kids up onto the stage, and allowed them to freestyle a little if they wanted. I was surprised at how many children had the confidence to get right into the middle of the stage and bust some moves, and some of the moves were better than I could have ever imagined! I mean, these kids could really dance, and they were having a whale of a time! It was absolutely hilarious, and they were met with whoops of delight, and laughter from the crowd, who were egging them on the whole time.

All in all, it was an amazing night, and we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. It ended at around half past eight, and we had a quick stop off at the Boab Inn for a drink before heading home, for another early start the next day.


From shanni on Aug 10th, 2007

So there were no actual crocodiles, then? :D x

From Kim on Aug 10th, 2007

Sadly, no! I was convinced that it was going to involve real crocs, but I was let down again Shanni!! ;)