16 FebSparkways celebrates 140 years

Posted on 16 Feb 2023

ELAA would like to welcome our membership to join us in congratulating Sparkways for their empowerment of children and young people to thrive since 1883, and in 2023 will celebrate 140 years of making a difference in the lives of those in need.  

Then known as the TRY Society, the organisation is the brainchild of William Mark Forster, a successful and well-connected clothing merchant and philanthropist, who was concerned for the plight of under-privileged children left behind by a rapidly expanding Melbourne society in the late 19th century. His simple idea inspired both the name of the society, and its ethos: that with opportunity and guidance all young people could be successful in life – all they had to do was try. 

In the 1990’s the organisation moved into early childhood education, managing a kindergarten for the City of Seymour, and then moving into mentoring and job skills training. Reflecting the changes of today’s complex world, the organisation changed its name in 2021, in recognition of the fact that simply trying, in today’s society, is no longer enough, pivoting to be named Sparkways.  

Sparkways’ network of 45 early childhood education and care services which support Melbourne’s children and families continue to champion Mr Forster’s legacy in the work they do with youth and mentoring programs.  

To mark 140 years, and the rich legacy established by Mr Forster, Sparkways will conducting events both internally and externally throughout the year and give Victorians a look at the people both past and present, whose lives were changed by their association with Sparkways and TRY. 

Director of Advocacy and Member Solutions, Megan O’Connell will be presenting at Sparkways’ annual staff conference on March 23 to discuss the state of our sector.  

To learn more about Sparkways please CLICK HERE. 

To read Sparkways media release about their exciting 140-year anniversary, please CLICK HERE. 

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