Youth have right royal ideas to improve our city

Adam Poulsen and Tamra CarrGeraldton Guardian
Geraldton Primary School students Haji Barrozo, Priyasha Kshetri, Martha Burkinshaw, Violette Barndon and Thomas Parsons.
Camera IconGeraldton Primary School students Haji Barrozo, Priyasha Kshetri, Martha Burkinshaw, Violette Barndon and Thomas Parsons. Credit: Adam Poulsen / The Geraldton Guardian

It’s no surprise what many adults would do if they were in charge of Geraldton. Reduce rates, throw the book at criminals, build a Kmart . . . but what would children do if we asked them to play boss?

Our reportersvisited four local schools and tapped into the unfettered imaginations of students to find out.

They asked: What would you do if you were king or queen of Geraldton for a day and why?

RANGEWAY PRIMARY SCHOOL

According to Year 6 student Ryeha Collins, Geraldton has a big issue that needs to be tackled: There’s not enough fun activities for kids.

Ryeha said more activities meant children would keep out of trouble and spend more time with friends. She also said there was a special benefit for mums, dads and caregivers.

“Parents don’t have to listen to kids say ‘I’m bored’ all day because they will have stuff to do,” Ryeha said. “If I was queen of Geraldton for a day, I would make more activities for kids.”

Thinking on the same wavelength, William Bowen, Year 6, said he would build a go-kart track and bowling alley so children would have more opportunity to play, while Marshall Hawes, Year 6, said he would make entry to Geraldton Aquarena free, establish another “no school” day and give every teacher $100 so they don’t complain.

All hail Rangeway Primary School students.
Camera IconAll hail Rangeway Primary School students. Credit: Geraldton Guardian, Tamra Carr

Zamiah Dalgety, Year 6, initially said she would jail all teachers for making students learn maths, but ultimately decided she wanted to use her powers as Queen of Geraldton to eat a lot of Rosie’s Chicken, because she likes the taste.

Luke McGibbon, Year 6, said if he was in charge, he would prefer to have Scott Morrison’s title.

“I’d be Prime Minister of Geraldton,” Luke said. “And I’d give money to people who don’t have much money.”

Luke said the reason behind his generosity was purely to be nice and kind to everybody.

Classmates Kiarna-Faye Drage and Leslie Brenton, both Year 6, had similar answers.

“I’d give food and clothes to the homeless because they don’t have much,” Kiarna said.

“I’d become a truck driver and do day shift and night shift so I could have enough money to help Mum,” Leslie contributed.

Not to be outdone by the impressive answers of his schoolmates, Seth Sutherland had this to say: “I’d buy all of Geraldton’s EB Games stores,” the Year 5 student said. “Because I’m a game freak.”

GERALDTON PRIMARY SCHOOL

For Geraldton Primary School’s Year 5 and 6 students, there were several pressing issues: the environment, equality, racism...and Donald Trump.

Eradicating litter — particularly in the ocean — was a goal shared by all. Year 5 student Haji Barrozo said he would allocate one day a year where the Geraldton community came together to clean up our coastline.

“Everyone would go to the ocean and find pieces of plastic, put them into bags and recycle them,” he said.

“I would perhaps create a sculpture out of those materials to symbolise Geraldton, such as a lighthouse,” Martha Burkinshaw, also Year 5, added.

Thomas Parsons, Year 6, said Geraldton should employ Seabins — floating rubbish bins that move with the tide and suck up marine litter.

“I would try to ban most plastics, but I would start with those tiny 600ml water bottles,” he said.

Geraldton Primary School students Haji Barrozo, Priyasha Kshetri, Martha Burkinshaw, Violette Barndon and Thomas Parsons.
Camera IconGeraldton Primary School students Haji Barrozo, Priyasha Kshetri, Martha Burkinshaw, Violette Barndon and Thomas Parsons. Credit: Adam Poulsen / The Geraldton Guardian

For Year 5 student Priyasha Kshetri, tackling racism was a top priority.

“My family is from Nepal and Haji’s family is from Philippines, but we all get along,” she said.

“Under our skin, we’re all the same. It’s just colour and cultures that divide people.”

For Violette Barndon, Year 6, diversity should be celebrated. “No one is imperfect because they’re different; we’re different because that’s the beauty of being imperfect,” she said.

“I would have one day a week where everyone’s even. There’s no one above anyone else and you have to respect everyone.”

Violette said the whole world could benefit from this message.

“First of all, I’d gain my way to the top of the world leaders, then I’d have a serious talk with Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump and figure something out,” she said.

Other key issues identified by the five students included reducing food waste, implementing recycling in Geraldton, and increasing opportunities for out-of-school education.

NAGLE CATHOLIC COLLEGE

The head girl and head boy said they would tackle very different issues if they were king and queen of Geraldton for a day, practices that adversely affect the environment and hunger.

Jessica Bradley said she would institute an official recycling program and get rid of all unnecessary plastics, because she wanted people to take environmental decline seriously.

Nicholas Duplex said he wanted to do something to prevent locals going hungry, suggesting a unique way to put a dent in the problem.

“I would put on a big pancake festival for people short on food,” he said.

“There are a lot of carbs in pancakes.”

Nagle Catholic College’s Laura Williamson, 17, head girl Jessica Bradley, 17, Tram Nguyen, 17, head boy Nicholas Duplex, 16, and Jaiyden Brown, 17.
Camera IconNagle Catholic College’s Laura Williamson, 17, head girl Jessica Bradley, 17, Tram Nguyen, 17, head boy Nicholas Duplex, 16, and Jaiyden Brown, 17. Credit: Tamra Carr / The Geraldton Guardian

Fellow Year 12 student Jaiyden Brown, from Dongara, said if he was king of Geraldton he would probably hand over the title to someone more responsible.

He said he had a few ideas on how to improve his hometown, however.

“I surf a lot and on long weekends the waves can get pretty crowded,” Jaiyden said.

“A bit less tourism would be good, or putting on an event almost as cool as surfing to distract people from the ocean.”

Thinking a little more locally, Tram Nguyen and Laura Williamson, both Year 12, said they would improve hospital service and institute a well-considered democracy.

According to Tram, Geraldton Hospital needs more beds and nurses.

“So people don’t need to sit on the floor and to make sure everybody is well looked after,” she said.

Classmate Laura said if she was queen, she would merely represent the people.

“I’d just go out in the community and hear everybody’s opinions,” she said.

“So I can implement the change people feel is needed.”

GERALDTON GRAMMAR SCHOOL

Geraldton Grammar School’s forward-thinking Year 12 students had plenty of ideas to make the city a more attractive place to live and visit.

Kane Chesson said he would increase tourism infrastructure and market Geraldton to a global audience. “I’d try to make Geraldton and the Abrolhos Islands a destination that people worldwide can aspire to come to, like the Great Barrier Reef,” he said.

“I’d also encourage the development of local business by creating a monetary incentive or making it easier to do business.”

Scotty Batty said he would address Geraldton’s lack of retail shops.

“I would also bring back the bowling alley, because it was a bit upsetting to see that go,” he said.

“But more seriously, I would give everyone recycling bins, because just dumping your recyclables into the waste bin is not the best thing to do.”

Ciedele Mezger had an ambitious idea to attract visitors, create jobs and amuse youngsters: build an amusement park.

“The amusement park itself would open up jobs and bring tourism in, which would help the economy and small businesses,” she said. “You could have a specific day of the week where you get free entry if you pick up a bag of rubbish from the beach.”

Geraldton Grammar students Kane Chesson, left, Leroy Brennan, Scotty Batty, Ciedele Mezger and Zali Young have big ideas for the City’s future.
Camera IconGeraldton Grammar students Kane Chesson, left, Leroy Brennan, Scotty Batty, Ciedele Mezger and Zali Young have big ideas for the City’s future. Credit: Adam Poulsen / The Geraldton Guardian

Leroy Brennan agreed more attractions were needed.

“I’d like to make the town more interesting, because there’s a lack of things to do here and it would also get the youth off our streets,” he said.

“A lot of young people turn to alcohol or drugs because they have nothing else to do.

“Maybe if there was something better to do, there would be less social problems.”

Keen artist Zali Young said Geraldton had some top-quality community art on offer, but she would love to see more.

“It gives Geraldton our own sense of community, and it makes it more personal when people visit,” she said.

“I’ve been to a few places where they have a lot of community art displays, and it makes you feel so welcome.”

YOUNG POETS’ CORNER

Geraldton Primary students Priyasha Kshetri and Martha Burkinshaw were so concerned about the state of the world’s marine ecosystems they were inspired to write the following poem about the Great Barrier Reef:

I have grief for my homeland because it’s turning into a plastic reef;

Watch it wither in one piece as fish begin to sadly leave.

The humans are living with no grief for their own natural habitat under the sea;

They instead care about their homes, without putting fish and the ecosystem before their own.

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