ABORIGINAL youth were inspired to reach for their roots during a program aimed at boys not enrolled in mainstream schools.
The Young Brothers program - now its second year - saw a dozen young men from Parramatta and Blacktown take part in workshops organised by MTC Australia in May and June.
Participants attend western Sydney behavioural schools or are not enrolled in high school.
"These are completely disengaged young people. A lot of them have extreme behavioural issues, broken families or low literacy and numeracy," said Young Brothers founder and youth outreach worker Shiva Gounden.
"There were guys who didn't want to contribute at all in the first session but after a few weeks they are the ones initiating conversation in the sessions. One young person who would always start fights was making an effort to learn."
Sessions included visits from Eels players, traditional indigenous games and discussions on bullying, teamwork, drugs and alcohol, healthy relationships and mental and sexual health.
In the final week, the group visited Red Hands Cave at Glenbrook National Park for a bushwalk and cultural talk with Darug man and Aboriginal discovery ranger Chris Tobin, who showed them bush foods like native currants and performed a smoking ceremony to cleanse bad energies.
One participant, 16-year-old Joshuah Sing of Mays Hill, said his eyes had been opened.
"We are a strong race," Joshuah said. "So much can be learned of the culture from paintings, stories and socialising."
Program partners included High Street Health Services at Harris Park, the Eels and Marist Youth Care Blacktown.