Stamping out bullying, violence: SANFL juniors, SA school kids embrace Sammy D messages

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12 August 2019 | Rebecca Baker, Sunday Mail, SA

AN innovative South Aussie charity that aims to reduce youth violence has spread its message to more than 20,000 young people already this year – twice as many as it reached in all of 2018 – and there’s strong evidence it is resonating.

The Sammy D Foundation, established in honour of sports-loving SA lad Sam Davis who was tragically killed aged 17 by a coward punch in 2008, has delivered more than 365 programs in schools and sporting clubs across the state so far this year.

In 2019 a major focus has been visiting SANFL junior clubs to drive awareness around bullying, violence prevention, alcohol and drug education and positive parental role modelling.

Last Wednesday, the Sammy D Foundation visited the Mitcham Hawks Football Club, where the organisation’s founder and father of Sam, Neil Davis, addressed parents and juniors.

The club’s junior football director, Steve Twelftree, described the presentation, tailored to suit the under 14, 15 and 16.5 age groups, as “one of the most moving and powerful” he has ever attended.

“Neil Davis’ powerful message, given with such bravery, was a privilege to be a part of,” he said.

“I have never been involved in a session where, for 45 minutes, those involved have hung off every word a presenter has said.

“Neil’s presentation was impactful, insightful and delivered with such passion that you would have to be inhuman, to not be moved.

“The message we give our children as parents has such an effect on the adults they become.”

Mr Twelftree said the club opted to host a Sammy D Foundation session after hearing Adelaide Crows’ Sam Jacobs, an ambassador for the foundation, present on it.

“The footy club has a holistic approach to developing players and believe lessons like what the Sammy D Foundation can offer are invaluable,” Mr Twelftree said.

“Negative sideline comment should never occur — we need to focus on the fun side of the game and be more compassionate towards all involved.

“Look after your mates. Be respectful. Walk away from confrontation. Enjoy life. Never take your loved ones for granted. Be the best person you can be. The action of one person can impact many others — these are the messages our players took away.”

As well as the metropolitan area, the charity has visited schools and sports clubs in the Adelaide Hills, Fleurieu Peninsula, Riverland, Mid North and Yorke Peninsula regions of SA.

“To be able to positively influence so many people across the state is extraordinary,” the organisation’s general manager, Brigid Koenig, said.

“The focus for the remainder of 2019 will be to continue to grow and expand the reach of our programs within schools and sporting clubs, so we can give young people and their role models real life tools they can use should they be faced in a challenging situation.”

Elizabeth Grove Primary School wellbeing senior leader Christine Vlass says her school has rolled out the violence prevention program to its Year 6 and 7 students for the past five years.

“Feedback from the students (have) included, ‘I know I have the ability to make choices’ and ‘I didn’t realise how many people could be affected by one punch’,” Ms Vlass said.

“We thank Neil and his team for the powerful impact they have made not only on our students but within the community.”

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