A university project changed the course of Wiradjuri man Bernard Higgins' life. As a third-year animation student, Mr Higgins had the opportunity to work on an animation for the Wiradjuri language course at Charles Sturt University (CSU). Collaborating with other students and First Nations Academic Lead with the Division of Learning and Teaching Lloyd Dolan, he made Wirruuwaa and the Giant Kangaroos - a traditional story told in language. "I'm hearing Wiradjuri language spoken - not one or two words, but full sentences over four minutes. It's the first time it had ever happened to me. I was 35 at the time," Mr Higgins said. "I was completely immersed in it. I don't know if it was a spiritual experience, but it was definitely an emotional one. "It's a beautiful melodic language ... and it's a cultural story full of lessons about how to live and how to be. There's real depth to it, and I didn't have that." Mr Higgins has since worked on a number of other animations and books looking to preserve, and spread, the language. Just 20 years ago, the Wiradjuri language was functionally extinct. Through efforts led by Uncle Stan Grant Senior, the language has been reconstructed and has a growing number of speakers. In 2015, the first students graduated from the Graduate Certificate in Wiradjuri Language Heritage and Culture at CSU. A few years later, Mr Higgins would take that course himself, learning a functional understanding of the language. To him, language is about ways of thinking as much as ways of communicating. All languages develop in parallel with culture. There is a circular relationship between how easy something is to communicate, and its accessibility. Different languages aren't just different ways of speaking - they're different ways of thinking. Mr Higgins said this is why language reclamation is so important. "Prior to graduation, I'd thought I'd move to one of the cities and work for one of the big studios," he said. "I realised there were options. I could stay and do things that help address what I missed out on as a kid, what other people are missing out on. "I've shown Wirruwaa to five-year-old kids who don't know a word of Wiradjuri, and they want to watch it again - it's a softer barrier than 'let's learn a language'." With Wiradjuri programs growing into some pre-school programs in the Riverina, Mr Higgins is eager to create more animations that make learning the language easy and fun. His hope is the revived language will come into more common use across the region. "I would love to be able to turn on NITV and see Saturday morning cartoons all in Wiradjuri, or Netflix having TV shows in language," he said. "Language is acceptable, and I know they'll name a few suburbs in Wiradjuri language and things like that. Why can't we have these shows? "Culture and identity are so tied into language. The way we talk to each other, how our parents teach us, the stuff we share with each other ... language facilitates all of that." Mr Higgins will speak about language reclamation at the upcoming TEDX Wagga event on November 18.