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Formula 1 star brings hope to flood-affected kindergarten

21 April 2023, Impact of Our Work, Climate

Valtteri Bottas visits Mooroopna Kindergarten to raise funds for early learning centre

At a time when the world is grappling with a cost-of-living crisis, disasters such as floods can have a truly devastating impact on a community. It is at times like this that every little bit of help matters. We recently saw such generosity from renowned Formula 1 driving star, Valtteri Bottas, who visited the Mooroopna Kindergarten, which experienced significant damage during last year’s floods.

Auction of Helmet Designed by Dja Dja Wurrung Artist

Valtteri Bottas is an advocate for Save the Children and visited Mooroopna Kindergarten to announce the auction of one of his race helmets from the Melbourne F1 event. The funds raised from the auction will benefit the early learning centre, helping to repair the damage and replenish resources. 

The helmet was designed by artist Ricky Kildea, a Dja Dja Wurrung man from the Laanecoorie mob in Central Victoria. His artwork features Bottas’s favourite colour blue, with its patterns a nod to the Alfa Romeo driver’s love of Australia and its culture.

Finnish F1 star Valtteri Bottas and his Ricky Kildea-designed helmet, which will be auctioned
to support Mooroopna Kindergarten.

Bottas’s Visit to the Kindergarten

Mooroopna Kindergarten is an early learning centre for First Nations children and those from diverse or disadvantaged backgrounds. Bottas was touched by the purpose of the centre and moved to help by its recent challenges. Save the Children regional manager Lee Joachim said he hoped Bottas’s visit showed the children they mattered. 

"This place had pretty bad flooding not long ago, so they really had a rough time," Bottas said. "It’s good to see the kids, see what they’re doing and tell a little bit about my job and answer some of their questions. I learned a lot today, some great stories … met lots of inspiring kids and learned that there’s still lots of work to do to help people.”

Bottas at Mooroopna Kindergarten with Save the Children Regional Manager Lee Joachim.

Bottas’s visit to the centre was a ray of hope for the children and their families, who have been facing tough times due to the floods, cost of living crisis and ongoing impacts of the pandemic. "That someone of his stature would bother to come here, to little old Mooroopna, and talk to the kids after what we've suffered, through COVID and floods, and that continual trauma that our families will experience and us as workers will experience as well," Joachim says.

"We are teaching the children they do have rights and that their families understand their rights as well," Joachim says, "we educate the wider community that children have a right to speak and represent themselves … That's an important aim for me - coming from an Indigenous background and understanding your rights can be extinguished from you."

The Importance of Support

It is inspiring to see individuals like Bottas give their time and support to communities in need. The funds raised from the auction of the helmet will help the Mooroopna Kindergarten to rebuild and provide necessary resources to children who need them the most. As Bottas said, "So after visiting this place which was as you can see, was damaged pretty badly with the floods, it’s just one example that people need help … if we can help, we should."

Bottas was presented with a painting made by the children as a thank you.

We extend our heartfelt thanks to Bottas, Kildea, and all our supporters who make it possible for us to bring hope and change to communities in need. Your contribution, however small, can make a big difference to those who need it the most.

Photos: Alfa Romeo.

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