SPORTS STAR: NRL player Ben Lowe inspires South Grafton students Jesse O'Neill, Clinton Skinner, Bally Robinson, Tristan Ellison and Matty Laurie.
SPORTS STAR: NRL player Ben Lowe inspires South Grafton students Jesse O'Neill, Clinton Skinner, Bally Robinson, Tristan Ellison and Matty Laurie. Trevor Veale

Turning dreams into outcomes

HUNDREDS of yellow Deadly Days hats dotted the festival field at Coffs Harbour Education Campus.

Outside O Block Theatre, 1200 students plus countless community patrons, teachers and performers turned out for the a lively spectacle in the sun.

The Deadly Days Dreaming My Future Festival was as well organised as it was attended with plenty of action and entertainment keeping the huge crowd engaged.

After two days of exploring career pathways through educational workshops and two nights of performance, panels and inspirational speakers - Thursday was about enjoying the cultural activities and soaking up the atmosphere.

The headline act Konect-A-Dot (aka Paul Penrith) came off stage to groups of students keen to connect with the talented indigenous artist.

Growing up in Griffith, an isolated town in country NSW, Konect-A-Dot said there was nothing like Deadly Days for him when he was younger.

"I wish I had something like this," Konect-a-Dot said.

"We had to do it ourselves and if we had something like this when I started it would have made life easier," Konect-a-Dot said.

He was surprised by the size of the event and said there were kids everywhere.

"Deadly Days is great for kids to interact with artists and have questions answered about how to get into the business."

No stranger to holding workshops in schools, the hip-hop artist said he likes helping kids find direction and teaching them to dream.

He performed before speaking to groups of curious students and then headed to Adelaide for the Indigenous Hip Hop and RnB Bump Awards where he was nominated in three categories.

Another role model students were gathering around was South Sydney Rabbitohs player Ben Lowe.

"It's great to be here supporting the young generation," Mr Lowe said.

"I've been to Coffs Harbour before and appreciate the culture and community and the emphasis on Aboriginal health.

"It's good to show the students that you can go from being a kid like them to an NRL footballer and to encourage them to live out their dreams."

Students came in waves to snag a signature from the sports star and among them were Grafton lads, Bally Robinson and Tristan Ellison.

Bally and Tristan were painted up after performing a traditional dance on stage. Bally said that dancing was his favourite part of the Deadly Days Festival.

"I like dancing and enjoy hip hop and traditional Aboriginal dancing," Bally said.

Murwillumbah Year 10 student Tamara Glumbic said the dancing and singing was her favourite part too.

"It is such a fun day and a great way to learn about Aboriginal culture and the stories that are told through song and dance," Tamara said.

While some students took turns playing gladiator games others got involved in the range of workshops like weaving, Gumbaynggirr language lessons with Gary Williams, radio broadcasting with CHY FM's Speaking Hour Lingo co-ordinators and hip hop with Yung Warriors to name a few.

TAFE's director of community development and Aboriginal engagement Heather McGregor said the festival had proved a huge success.

"We have been building on the festival for the last few years and we are really pleased with the participation," Ms McGregor said.

"The energy is high, the kids are engaged and the role models have been inspiring."

Ms McGregor said they have been building on the good parts of the festival and adding new twists.

"We are excited about next year's event."



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