News Blog

Environmental Citizen of the Year by Ku-ring-gai Council

August 31, 2023

Arden, in Year 6 at Sacred Heart Pymble, was awarded Environmental Citizen of the Year by Ku-ring-gai Council at their Australia Day awards ceremony. Compassion and joy are key values of Catholic Schools Broken Bay and Arden is living them out in spades with her passion projects. Arden has raised money for her local parish, cheered up her local nursing home and continues to brighten up spaces wherever she goes.

Kerry Paxton, Assistant Principal of Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School, Pymble explains the beginnings of creating curiosity in her students through the Genius Hour…

“Last year, all Stage 3 students were challenged to think big and find an area that they were passionate or curious about. They were then asked to consider how they could share their learning with others beyond our classroom, with the goal of making a positive difference. Students have an allocated one hour per fortnight to work on their project but are free to continue with this in their own time. Genius Hour also provides opportunities for our students to be mentored by other adults and for experts in key areas to come and present to our students about their work across a range of fields.”

We asked Arden some questions all about her incredible volunteer work…

How and why did you get involved with Plant Rescue Ku-ring-gai?

Last year, my school introduced a new passion project called Genius Hour. I wanted to build community spirit and spread kindness and positivity through my love of gardening and cultivating bonsais. I hosted a plant exchange stall in my local neighbourhood. One of the local residents spoke with me about a not-for-profit organisation that she runs called Plant Rescue Ku-ring-gai. The team rescue unwanted plants from demolition sites and salvage plants that residents no longer want. These plants are then donated to new homes and local schools. I was really inspired by Plant Rescue Ku-ring-gai’s passion for making a difference to our community. I wanted to support their humble organisation.

How do you work with Plant Rescue?

One of my first interactions with Plant Rescue Ku-ring-gai was when I made a donation to their amazing cause after raising money from my first plant stall. Our relationship has continued to grow. They have been very supportive and encouraging of my community initiatives and passion for gardening. I have worked with Plant Rescue Ku-ring-gai on a couple of occasions where I have coordinated the delivery of rescued indoor plants and spring flowers to beautify our school grounds and classrooms. The indoor plants have brought some life and greenery into our school environment, improved student wellbeing and encouraged responsibility.

Tell us about ‘Roof-Raiser Plant Stall’…

On Election Day this year, I ran a ‘Roof-Raiser Plant Stall’ at my school. I helped my local parish, Sacred Heart Catholic Church Pymble, raise funds to go towards the cost of repairing their leaking roof. It was lovely to see my local community support my cause. I raised a profit of $575, which was all donated to my local parish. I was so overwhelmed with the kindness and generosity from my community. It was very rewarding to support the parish who has supported me throughout my Catholic journey.

How are you now helping men and women in aged care homes?

My latest community initiative is called the ‘Spread the Love ❤️’ Project. This project is about spreading the gift of kindness and compassion to the aged care home residents and healthcare workers in my local area. Kindness Hampers, containing freshly baked pastries, chocolates and biscuits, will be donated to aged care homes. I have been very grateful to receive the support of businesses who have generously contributed to these Kindness Hampers, such as a local bakery in Roseville. I would love to touch the hearts of the elderly residents and workers, because they are so deserving of some sweetness in their lives.