Souths Cares School to Work graduate, Mark Thorne, was chosen to represent the Rabbitohs in the traditional coin toss at their annual Charity Shield pre-season clash against the Dragons.

Souths Cares mentor, Rhys Wesser, said that Mark was selected from more than 150 Souths Cares students who are either currently participating in the program or have graduated from it.

“The Souths Cares team considered Mark the perfect candidate for the coin toss,” said Rhys.

“Mark has consistently demonstrated his leadership abilities not just while he was at school but also in the community.

“He has successfully participated in a number of educational programs aimed at better understanding the needs of Indigenous youth and the wider community, which has culminated in an offer of work from World Vision.

“Mark is a role model for not just Indigenous students, but all students.

“Most people speak of young people as future leaders however, Mark is already a leader of his people and his community.”

Some of Mark’s achievements to date include:

2015

·       Accepted offer of employment with World Vision

2014

·       Accepted to study Social Science and Criminology at UNSW

·       Ambassador with World Vision, visiting a number of South American communities

2013

·       School Captain of Matraville Sports High School

·       Winner of the Caltex Overall Award for Excellence (selected over 34 other students)

·       Successful participation in the Souths Cares and University of Sydney’s Framing Health Project

·       Participation in industry visits to AFEX and Taronga Zoo

·       Participation in Winter School at UNSW

·       Participation in the Sydney-based Young Mob Leaders Program

·       Successful completion of training in RSA and RCG

Rhys said that the influence of Rugby League and the Rabbitohs in the local community is a vital part of affecting positive change.

“The influence that the game and our players have – especially on our local community – can’t be underestimated,” he said.

“The Charity Shield is a wonderful celebration of the game and essential to Souths Cares in terms of raising funds to help us support our community programs.

“Whether it’s our player supported Teacher’s Aide program, our innovative Oral Health program, or our Indigenous School to Work transition program from which Mark is a graduate, each one benefits directly from proceeds from the match.

“Since 2006 Souths Cares has grown to employ seven staff (five of whom are Indigenous) and offers five community programs centring on health; education; training; and employment.

“We are making a difference in the community and the results speak for themselves.

In 2014:

·       100% of Souths Cares Indigenous Yr 12 students completed their HSC ;

·       3,533 local and regional students were educated on the benefits or good oral hygiene;

·       2,105 local students participated in their Healthy and Active Lifestyles Program; and

·       135 hours of teacher support over 44 sessions, were delivered by the Rabbitohs NRL squad to our local school.

If you would like to donate to Souths Cares or find out more about their community programs go to: http://www.rabbitohs.com.au/community/souths-cares.html.