6-yr-old Emanuel student graduates from HIPPY La Perouse Aboriginal Program

November 29, 2012 by J-Wire Staff
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Gideon Pozniak, a six-yr-old pupil at Sydney’s Emanuel School, graduated this week from HIPPY (Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters), a two-year educational program run by the La Perouse Aboriginal community.

Lisa Sarzin (left) with her son, Gideon Pozniak, and HIPPY Home tutor Sharon Brown

Gideon’s mother, Lisa Sarzin, first heard about the program when she and her mother Dr Anne Sarzin co-authored Hand in Hand: Jewish and Indigenous people working together, and researched the HIPPY educational initiative for their book. She committed to participating with Gideon after the La Perouse HIPPY Coordinator, Vicky Doyle, said to her ‘You’ve written about it, now experience it’.

Lisa enrolled Gideon in January 2011 when he was still a pupil at Kornmehl Centre Emanuel Pre-school in Randwick. ‘HIPPY proved to be an exceptional program for Gideon and me,’ Lisa says. ‘Key benefits included having quality time with my son at home in a learning context; and insight into the learning process, which is valuable information when a child makes the transition from pre-school to primary school.

Gideon [rt] graduates

‘The program comprised simple yet creative and powerful ideas for home activities that enhance learning on various levels, focusing especially on gross and fine-motor skills, cognitive learning, comprehension,  literacy and numeracy, as well as emotional development and expression.’

The HIPPY educational program, originally created in 1969 by Professor Avima Lombard of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and exported to Australia, relies on home tutors selected from their own communities. Tutors receive training to instruct the mothers, who then teach their children, an inter-generational cycle of teaching and learning that not only ensures language skills and reinforces the bonds between parents and children but also reduces their sense of isolation and boosts their self-esteem.

Home tutor Sharon Brown visited Lisa fortnightly for two years at her home in North Bondi, personally delivering the story books and regularly discussing Gideon’s progress. ‘I am proud of Gideon and Lisa,’ she says. ‘It takes dedication to complete the program.’

Gideon has happy memories of the HIPPY Family Day that brought HIPPY families and all participants together for a day of socialising and fun earlier this year at the Gujaga Childcare Centre in La Perouse. ‘I loved it,’ Gideon said.

HIPPY La Perouse Coordinator, Vicky Doyle, said at the graduation ceremony that 2012 marked the tenth anniversary of the program that had proved so important in the lives of the children. ‘It is great to see our graduates develop into leaders in our community and beyond. They are special and we are proud of them.’

Aunty Gloria Martin, whose daughter Anne was the first Aboriginal woman to study the HIPPY program at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, told the audience that she was proud of  the achievements of her daughter Anne, HIPPY La Perouse Coordinator Vicky Doyle, and the pioneering work of Sherri Longbottom and Dianne Ingrey. ‘I’m proud of all the mob here,’ she said, ‘and I congratulate all the kids who are graduating tonight.’

The program concluded with traditional Aboriginal dancing by Matthew Doyle and young dancers from the community.


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