Young Advocates, CHELSEA WOOD

As part of the Catholic Schools Office Virtual Academy, students from the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle are encouraged to think across disciplines to solve real world-problems in an area of interest to them. 

At the end of the year, students in the Virtual Academy present their research to a panel of education, industry, and community experts. It is a rewarding opportunity for some of the Diocese’s most highly gifted students to advocate for matters close to their heart and understand their ability to apply their critical and creative thinking skills to drive change. The academy supports extended learning for students in Years 5-8.

Here is a snapshot of Chelsea Wood's current research project:

Year 5, St Peter's Primary School, Stockton
Chelsea is on a sustainability mission and wants to empower others to share her budding idea.

"I would like to help the community be more sustainable by growing our own produce, using reusable and local materials, and to have a place where we can socialise and work together," she said.

As a first step, Chelsea is focusing on her immediate surrounds.

"In my community of Seaside Fern Bay, we are not sustainable. We must always travel outside our community for food, fuel, schools, restaurants and more.

"My solution is to create a community garden that will grow fresh produce for all to enjoy. I think this is the best way to help because anyone can walk to it, which will also play a part in people not using cars."

As part of her project, Chelsea has met with a horticulturalist and nutritionist, who have helped guide her proposal and inform its viability. As well as identifying the best use of materials to build the garden and which type of produce to plant, Chelsea's research has highlighted a plethora of benefits a garden would bring to the local community.

"Working in a community garden provides benefits to wellbeing including strength, mobility and flexibility, plus mental health advantages including relaxation and stress relief," Chelsea said.

"Access to fresh produce also provides our community with a healthy variety of inexpensive fresh food for good nutrition. Working in a community garden can also give a sense of belonging and acceptance for those who may otherwise feel isolated."

Chelsea has recently surveyed fellow residents at Seaside Fern Bay about community gardens, with most indicating their support for such a project. This was all the impetus the young green thumb required, as she now moves onto the next stage of her project; developing the financial model to sustain the garden, determining its exact location, and fine-tuning the proposed design.


In 2021 the Virtual Academy presentation day will be held online via Microsoft Teams on Thursday 25 November. During the day we will acknowledge and celebrate our students and provide them with the opportunity to discuss their learning and their work with a group of very interested and knowledgeable experts. Each student’s presentation will be based on their research project completed as part of a their unit of work. 

Gifted Education is a focus for schools in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. To discover more about our Gifted Education program click here. 

Follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Lizzie Watkin Image
Lizzie Watkin

Lizzie is Team Leader Content for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

Other Aurora Issues