Students learn to go with the flow

“WE wouldn’t mind going back on the river,” Shane Cole said.

There was a red carpet under his feet, voices hummed and waiters served guests sushi, prawns and itsy bitsy nibbles.

“It was peace and quiet and the good campfire chats,” Mr Cole mused.

It was a wonder Mr Cole, 41, and his mate Paul McGaughlin, 38, were at Wodonga TAFE last night.

Two years ago, their mental illnesses had such a tight hold they barely left their Albury houses.

What changed was that both signed up for TAFE’s River 2 Recovery two-year project.

They were two of 17 people with illnesses who built boats and sailed the Murray River for 225 kilometres from Noreuil Park to Lake Mulwala in December.

The group graduated last night.

“Before this, I would’ve avoided this situation like a plague,” Mr Cole said, referring to the bustle around him.

Mr Cole and Mr McGaughlin said the project had built confidence and connected them with people.

“It gets me out in the community and I feel comfortable there,” Mr McGaughlin said.

TAFE project co- ordinator Bryan Winnett said the students had found their voice and the ability to express themselves in front of others.”

Aside from blogging with ABC Goulburn Murray and giving interviews on their 11-day trip, the students made a short film that ABC Open screened last night.

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