The Building Bridges Story
The Building Bridges Program began in 2004 with 20 students from three schools in Melbourne, as a creative response of the WellSpring Centre to the widespread fear and incidents of violence that occurred around Australia following 11 September 2001.
At that time, school children from Islamic, Sikh and Jewish backgrounds were being verbally and sometimes physically abused because of their different appearance. The social fabric of Australian society was being tested. Dr Tim McCowan, OAM, the founder of the Program, believed the best antidote to the fear, prejudice and violence arising from ignorance of those who look or act differently because of their religion or culture, were opportunities for respectful dialogue between peers of different backgrounds. Only in such personal dialogues could understanding and trust be fostered, and the wisdom of each perspective have any opportunity to be discovered. So after trialling it first with adults from diverse backgrounds, he initiated the program with the strong support of teachers, in the first three schools: Bialik College, King Khalid Islamic College (now Australian International Academy, Melbourne) and Carey Baptist Grammar School.
The program has grown exponentially since, with a total of over 2,000 students being involved to date.