Thurston helps kids into kindy

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - EM­MA­LINE STIG­WOOD

WHAT he’s done for rugby league is just the start as Johnathan Thurston yes­ter­day turned his at­ten­tion to­wards his off- field pas­sions.

Just hours af­ter an emo­tional State of Ori­gin se­ries win watched from the coaches’ box, Thurston be­came the am­bas­sador for Deadly Kindies – a $ 1.5 mil­lion plan to boost the num­ber of en­rolled indige­nous kids by com­bin­ing health checks with kindy packs.

Now “at peace” with his de­ci­sion to re­tire from rep­re­sen­ta­tive foot­ball, he said it was time to start his tran­si­tion to other pur­suits with an em­pha­sis on so­cial change. With rates of indige­nous kids en­rolled in kindy at 65 per cent in some parts of Queens­land, or­gan­is­ers say Thurston’s sup­port would see num­bers sky­rocket to the 95 per cent tar­get.

“I am in a very priv­i­leged po­si­tion with what I do and want to be able to use that po­si­tion to make so­cial change,” Thurston said. “Ob­vi­ously, the ca­reer is com­ing to an end and I am pas­sion­ate about ed­u­ca­tion and … health and making sure the next gen­er­a­tion of our cul­ture are get­ting the best ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion and health.”

Meet­ing awe- struck kids at Koo­bara Kindy in Bris­bane, Thurston ( pic­tured) said the next six months would be “pretty tough” as he focused on mend­ing his shoul­der.

But that meant more fam­ily time and a chance to plan his post- foot­ball ca­reer. “I’ll start putting things in place for when I do re­tire which is why I’m stand­ing here today as an am­bas­sador,” he said.

Ori­gin fall­out: Sport

Picture: ZAK SIM­MONDS

TOUGH ROAD: Tina and Levi Morse with son Or­lando, 3. TINA MORSE

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