Gumlu State School principal Thomas Harrington, school leaders Emily Chapman, 8 and Thomas Linton, 11, and Johnathan Thurston. Picture: Laura Thomas
Gumlu State School principal Thomas Harrington, school leaders Emily Chapman, 8 and Thomas Linton, 11, and Johnathan Thurston. Picture: Laura Thomas

FOOTY FEVER: Gumlu students welcome league legend

GUMLU may be renowned for its green fields, but the town had a tint of maroon today as NRL star Johnathan Thurston rolled into town.

Mr Thurston visited Gumlu State School to launch a series of booklets to celebrate family connection and help young people build confidence, courage and self belief.

The booklets are part of a wider leadership program launched by Mr Thurston called the Johnathan Thurston Academy, which provides community programs aimed at employment, education and wellbeing.

Mr Thurston said the leadership programs and collaboration with the Academy were “extremely important”, especially in regional communities like Gumlu.

“I’ve been lucky enough and blessed to be able to learn a lot from many great leaders, especially in the rugby league community,” he said.

Johnathan Thurston met with students from Gumlu State School alongside members of the community today. Picture: Laura Thomas
Johnathan Thurston met with students from Gumlu State School alongside members of the community today. Picture: Laura Thomas

“I’ve been captained by some incredible leaders and coached by some incredible leaders as well.

“To be able to expose bits and pieces of information and things that make these people so great and apply it to my own leadership style, and then to work with (others) and get these workbooks into communities in regional areas is something I’m extremely proud of.”

The workbooks include activities aimed at building resilience, confidence and healthy relationships, as well as tips for facing adversity.

“For me, it was about knowing your values,” Mr Thurston said.

Johnathan Thurston shared stories of his time on the field with students. Picture: Laura Thomas
Johnathan Thurston shared stories of his time on the field with students. Picture: Laura Thomas

“The decisions that you make are a lot easier when you know what your values are.”

Mr Thurston shared these values with Gumlu students and families while giving them an insight into the trials and tribulations of life on the field.

While he couldn’t avoid a grilling on missing the conversion in the 2015 grand final, Mr Thurston gave students some tips on how to line up the perfect penalty.

Gumlu State School captain Thomas Linton said while his mum had not let him take to the rugby league field just yet, he looked forward to putting Mr Thurston’s lessons into action.

Students from Gumlu State School listened as Johnathan Thurston passed on advice on how to be good leaders and build resilience. Picture: Laura Thomas
Students from Gumlu State School listened as Johnathan Thurston passed on advice on how to be good leaders and build resilience. Picture: Laura Thomas

Thomas, 11, said the presentation taught him to be more confident, which he hoped would help make him an even better school leader.

“Leadership, helping others and being kind to other people (makes a good leader),” he said.

“If someone falls over you go and help them.”

Gumlu State School principal Thomas Harrington also thanked Mr Thurston for visiting, saying he was a strong role model for both students and members of the community.

Johnathan Thurston challenged some students to a game of handball. Picture: Laura Thomas
Johnathan Thurston challenged some students to a game of handball. Picture: Laura Thomas

With 20 students, what the school lacks in numbers it makes up in passion and a love of the Maroons, which Mr Harrington said was fostered by the support of Evolution Mining.

“Evolution brings quite a lot of things to our little school, they never forget us,” he said.

Mr Thurston’s visit today marked the launch of the JTCommunity and JTYouth booklets across the Whitsunday region in partnership with Evolution Mining.

Evolution Mining Mt Carlton health, safety and community manager Mark Brown said the Gumlu community and students were grateful to be among the first to use the booklets.

“Evolution is proud to work with the JT Academy to help offer young people new opportunities via our partnership, which aims to provide additional support for indigenous youth, especially those in remote and regional communities,” he said.


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