Monday, February 2024

In the realm of social leaders, few names stand out as much as Ted Noffs. 

The founder of Life Ed, Ted’s legacy is a testament to a life devoted to making the lives of young people better. 

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Early life and influences

Born in 1926, Ted Noffs grew up in a world recovering from the aftermath of World War I. His upbringing gave him a deep sense of compassion and empathy, values that would go on to define his life’s work. Ted’s experiences as a young minister in the outback helped shaped later ground breaking organisations such as Wayside Chapel (now dealing with homelessness in Sydney), Life Ed (preventative education) and then Wayside Foundation (now named Ted Noffs Foundation the country’s largest provider of treatment for young people involved in drugs and youth crime.)

In 1979, Ted Noffs founded the original Life Education Centre at Sydney’s Kings Cross Wayside Chapel after seeing the despair caused by illicit drug use. Ted had a clear mission. He didn’t want to frighten children with scare tactics. Instead, he wanted to spread the message that each child is unique – a true marvel in body, mind and spirit. Through education, the program would motivate and empower children to make safer, healthier choices by drawing on their own critical knowledge. His belief in the transformative power of education laid the foundation for a legacy that continues to impact generations.

Ted’s innovative approach to education led to the launch of the Life Education van – a mobile classroom designed to bring crucial health education directly to schools. This mobile classroom became a symbol of accessibility, breaking down barriers and reaching communities far and wide.

Focussing on real issues

Ted recognised the need for education that went much further than traditional curriculum subjects. Under his guidance, Life Ed programs addressed relevant issues like drug and alcohol awareness, mental health, bullying, building resilience, drug and alcohol awareness, and nutrition and exercise. His vision was to equip children with the tools needed to navigate the complexities of life while receiving a classroom education.

A lifelong advocacy

Ted’s commitment to social change extended beyond the establishment of Life Ed. As a social reformer, he advocated for drug rehabilitation programs and founded the Wayside Chapel in Sydney, providing support for the marginalised and those struggling with addiction.

While Ted sadly passed away in 1995, his legacy continues to thrive through Life Ed, Wayside Chapel and Ted Noffs Foundation. The core values instilled by Ted – empathy, inclusivity, and a commitment to social betterment – remain at the heart of Life Ed’s mission.

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Building on Ted’s vision

The Queensland affiliate of Life Ed grew from the efforts of philanthropist-business leaders the late Brian Ray and Ron McMaster whofounded the original Life Education Centre in 1987 and funded the Broadbeach building construction with support from the local business community.

Today, Life Ed Qld stands as a living testament to Ted Noffs’ vision and continues to evolve to meet the changing needs of a fast-moving society. Our programs embrace technology and innovative teaching methods while staying true to Ted’s commitment to holistic health education.

Ted Noffs was more than a founder. He was a visionary who recognised the potential for positive change through education. His legacy lives on not just in the programs and initiatives of Life Ed, but in the lives of countless individuals who have been given the tools and skills to make healthier, safer choices.

As we recognise the impact of Ted Noffs, we acknowledge that his vision continues to shape the future, one child at a time.

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