Margita Downey and Shelley Harvie are riding from Gladstone to the Sunshine Coast to raise money for local chaplains, who are entirely community-funded.
Margita Downey and Shelley Harvie are riding from Gladstone to the Sunshine Coast to raise money for local chaplains, who are entirely community-funded. Tegan Annett

School chaplains get on their bikes to raise money

HELPING kids any way they can has become more of a lifestyle than a job, two local chaplains say.

Margita Downey has been a school chaplain at Tannum Sands State High School for the past five years.

"To me, it's all about listening to the kids and spending time with them. It's about role-modelling all the things you want them to be when they are adults, successful and happy," Margita said.

She and fellow Gladstone South Primary School chaplain Shelley Harvie are riding from Gladstone to the Sunshine Coast to raise money for local chaplains. Their jobs are wholly community-funded.

"I reckon it's a lifestyle. It's fun - you get in the community and join in activities at school and just be there for all the kids, staff and parents," Shelley said.

Shelley has been a chaplain for the past 18 months and was previously a special needs teacher.

"All I wanted to do was be with the kids. I lost that desire to teach maths and English. I just wanted to make sure the kids were okay," she said.

Margita has had a desire to help people for a long time.

"When I was young, a friend committed suicide and that led me on a journey of trying to help young people who may be suicidal," she said.

She worked for Lifeline as a volunteer for about 10 years before becoming a chaplain.

"All of the high school chaplains in the area are 100% community-funded, so we rely on the community's kindness and support to keep chappies in schools," Margita said.

The pair began their ride on Saturday and hope it will take around a week. At first it was just a fundraiser, but, over time, it has become more.

"To the kids, it seems to be like an encouragement. It's bringing hope to them and sending the message that even though things are hard in life, you don't have to give up," Margita said.

To follow their journey, "like" their Facebook page, Happy Chappy Riders.



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