Strathclyde Sirens netball star Gia Abernethy visits Shawlands Primary School

Gia with pupils from Shawlands Primary School.
Gia with pupils from Shawlands Primary School.

Strathclyde Sirens and Australia U21 netball star Gia Abernethy joined NSPCC Scotland to visit Shawlands Primary School with the charity’s Speak Out Stay Safe programme.

The children’s charity began delivering Speak Out Stay Safe assemblies in Scotland in 2012 and since then its staff and team of dedicated volunteers have spoken to tens of thousands of school children the length and breadth of the country.

This academic year the NSPCC Scotland’s Speak Out Stay Safe assemblies have been delivered in 29 schools across Glasgow, reaching over 5,400 pupils.

The programme aims to help children, in an age-appropriate way, to understand abuse in all its forms and recognise the signs that it is happening, learn how to protect themselves from abuse and recognise how to get help – including from the NSPCC’s Childline service.

NSPCC research shows that on average at least two children in every primary school classroom will have suffered some form of abuse or neglect.

As well as specially-trained volunteers and staff, the charity’s mascot Buddy is also on hand during the assemblies to highlight to children the importance of speaking to a trusted adult or Childline about issues including abuse, neglect or bullying.

NSPCC Scotland has been working in partnership with Strathclyde Sirens, the nation’s only semi-professional women’s sports team, since 2017 with the shared aim of promoting child safety.

Gia made the move to Glasgow this season following a successful campaign with the Adelaide Thunderbirds.

She has represented Australia at U21 level.

After the assembly, the pupils enjoyed a coaching session with Gia.

The Sirens star said: “I’m delighted to be able to come along to Shawlands Primary School today for my first Speak Out Stay Safe assembly.

“The impact the assembly has on children and young people in helping them recognise abuse is so important.

“The Strathclyde Sirens are extremely proud of this partnership and being able to use our platform to keep more children safe from abuse with Speak Out Stay Safe.”

Theresa Wright, headteacher of Shawlands Primary School, said: “This is a great initiative which teaches children who they can talk to if they have worries, and also how they can contact Childline.

“We were delighted to welcome Gia from the Strathclyde Sirens netball team to Shawlands Primary School, and we thank her for the excellent coaching session that was enjoyed by our P4 class.”

Alan Stewart, NSPCC Scotland school service manager, added: “It’s great to have Gia’s support, and through the backing of the Siren’s we are able to reinforce the messages encouraging children when necessary, to be brave and speak out to a trusted adult or Childline about a concern or worry that they may have.”