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Sharks Have Heart - October 2021 - Newsletter

Through its community arm Sharks Have Heart, the Sharks help, inspire, engage, educate and advance equality by supporting a variety of community programs, as despite the challenges associated with the Covid restrictions, the club and the NRL playing group have continued with their efforts to engage and make a difference in the community.

During the period from July to October, as a reward for his efforts and in recognising the work carried out by Sharks Have Heart, Ronaldo Mulitalo was rewarded with the prestigious Ken Stephen Medal, he followed up by promoting a fundraising initiative supporting Stepping Stone House, with the Sharks also leading the way in encouraging Covid vaccinations amongst the indigenous community.

See following the Sharks Have Heart newsletter which details those initiatives mentioned above, as well as some of the other recent events and organisations the Club proudly supports.


Ronaldo claims prestigious NRL community award
For his outstanding work in the community and the selfless manner in which he embraces and engages with all he comes into contact with, Ronaldo Mulitalo was awarded the NRL’s highest community honour when named the Ken Stephen Medal winner for 2021.

Announced at the NRL Grand Final, Mulitalo was presented with the medal by Wally Lewis, with Sharks CEO Dino Mezzatesta applauding Mulitalo’s efforts, while also praising the work carried out by Sharks Have Heart.

“Congratulations to Ronaldo on winning the Ken Stephen Medal. It is well deserved recognition for the work he does and for his dedication to community causes. He has a huge heart and despite a challenging year including the serious jaw injury which ended his season, his commitment to the community never wavered,” Mezzatesta said.

“With Sharks Have Heart, there is no doubt we have NRL-leading community programs in place, with Ronaldo’s Ken Stephen Medal an endorsement not only of him as an individual, but reward for Sharks Have Heart for what they do in the community.”

Mulitalo follows in the footsteps of Sam Tagataese, the Sharks most recent winner of the award when he was presented the Ken Stephen Medal in 2017, while he beat out a field of equally commendable community performers in Cody Walker (Souths), Jamal Fogerty (Titans) and Ryan Matterson (Eels) who were also included in the top four finalists ahead of the final award announcement.  

For more on Mulitalo’s Ken Stephen award, CLICK HERE to see the Sharks website editorial.


Sleeping ‘under the stars’ for Stepping Stone House
Ronaldo Mulitalo continued his unwavering in his support of Stepping Stone House, the organisation assisting young people who are at risk of homelessness by promoting their Sleep Under the Stars fundraising event, an initiative aimed at raising much needed funds to support the valuable service they provide.

Mulitalo was enlisting the support of a number of his Sharks NRL teammates to join him at the October 15 event which has a goal to raise $800,000 to directly help more young people to stay in Stepping Stone House accommodations.

When signing up for Sleep Under the Stars 2021, participants were set to join a community of like-minded individuals, families and businesses in raising money for Stepping Stone House and its critical support for youth at risk of homelessness.

By taking part or donating to more young people will be offered accommodation at Stepping Stone House as they provide the shelter, care and support they need – and a pathway out of homelessness.

The $800,000 they aim to raise has the ability to care for 33 at-risk youth for an entire year, with Stepping Stone House currently forced to turn away three young people a day due to the impact of COVID on families.

CLICK HERE to read more, to donate or to be a part of Sleep Under the Stars 2021 – see the Sharks website article.


Tayla steers School to Work through a challenging 2021
Project Officer Tayla Kafoa didn’t let the challenges of Covid during the past year dimmish the impact the School to Work (S2W) Program had on young indigenous students engaged in the Sharks and NRL-supported initiative during 2021.

An education and employment program that utilises the positive profile of the game of Rugby League to support and encourage young Indigenous Australians to stay at school, to further their education or to enhance their ability to get a job, S2W provides work experience, mentoring and leadership opportunities.

In 2015 S2W was adopted by the Sharks and has since become an integral program within the Club’s Diversity pillar.

Kafoa, drives the program as she currently services 20 local schools, 14 of those in the Sutherland Shire, while there are 27 active students in Year 11, and 38 currently completing their Year 12 studies.

Of the 38 in Year 12, 18 students have already received university offers for 2022, another eight are due to receive their offer results before the end of the month, with the remaining 12 students exploring pathways including fulltime employment, traineeships and TAFE.

CLICK HERE to read more about the S2W program, the work they carried out in 2021, results achieved, the events attended and some of the program’s high achievers.


Sharks say ‘step up’ for the Covid-19 vaccination
The Sharks threw its support behind Deadly Choices, one of its key community partners, by agreeing to showcase and distribute campaign socks among their players to highlight the importance of the COVID vaccine, particularly among local Indigenous communities.

In joining Australia’s Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) along with its four founding Community Controlled Health Services (CCHSs), the Sharks were aiming to spark eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations to get the COVID-19 vaccine, in support of the ‘I Stepped Up’ campaign and website.

Through Sharks Have Heart, the Club supports the work of Deadly Choices in educating local youth around ideal healthy lifestyle choices, including the encouragement of all community members to maintain a regular health check at their local Vitalis Family Health Practice clinic.

The ‘I stepped up’ campaign featured informative videos, answers to frequently asked questions and a slew of other resources which are all available on the campaign website, in providing community members with tailored COVID-19 vaccine information in one place.

To read more, to visit the I Stepped Up website, or to follow the campaign on social media via the Deadly Choices Facebook page - CLICK HERE