Showcase Shares Wellbeing Ideas
BY DI SNEDDON
Nowhere else globally will you see a cluster model of wellbeing like that in place across the Upper Hunter.
Thirty schools ,15 early learning and care centers and travelling toybox (45) are joined as a united front to create new futures for our young people.
King Street Public School last week hosted the Singleton Visible Wellbeing Showcase with almost 300 school staff from 11 schools in Singleton sharing their programs and approach to support resilience and mental health.
Kicking off with an onscreen presentation, those present saw the depth of program initiatives across schools in the area.
The concept is simple but effective. It is all about identifying and building strengths, helping students feel better about themselves, understanding that their emotions change and being mindful, caring and kind towards one another.
Schools shared their ideas such as a simple colour board on the entry to a classroom where children tap on the colour of their mood as they walk in. It is a simple process but gives a teacher and support staff an understanding of how a student may be feeling at the start of their day.
Singleton Public School proved toilet humour has a role to play where they use the backs of toilet doors for messaging to remind all students to be kind and caring, especially to themselves.
Staff at Singleton High shared the kindness amongst each other through their Guardian Angel program where staff send an anonymous gift from a ‘Guardian Angel’ to recognise the trials and tribulations faced. This aims to boost staff moral and the evidence from recipients proves it works.
Also in the audience was principal of Revsby South Public School, Chris Whitten, who is keen to adopt the Visible Wellbeing across the Southern Highlands.
Based on a program developed by Scone-based Where There’s a Will, Southern Highlands will attend a two-day workshop in September facilitated by the organisation. Southern Highlands will be the first test case of the Where There’s a Will prototype.
Pauline Carrigan, founding member of Where There’s a Will, attended the Singleton showcase and admitted she was emotional witnessing the projects now in schools.
‘Here’s cheers to the true heroes in this amazing project, the teachers, school staff and P and C’s, who continued to hope and dream and work towards robust wellbeing programs in schools,” Pauline said.
“I am emotional also about everyone who has in anyway backed this project. Our communities are amazing, I know this is the strategic plan that will build healthy futures for our communities, and provide vital data that will change the very future of community wellbeing nationally.
“Nationally and rurally there is a looming crisis of mental ill health and in the panic to address this, many approaches are being hailed as the way forward and we are witnessing a revolving door of ideas but I am yet to see a well thought out strategic plan other than our own.
“Stage one is to build the fence at the top of the mountain and make it maintainable to stop people falling to the ambulance below. This can only be achieved strategically through our schools, one language, many skillsets, grit, knowledge and perseverance for the journey.”
Yancoal supports the program in Singleton and since 2019 has provided $200,000 towards this Student Wellbeing Program.
Yancoal Operations Manager, Aaron McGuigan, said Yancoal had supported the Wellbeing Program in Schools since 2019, and said it was wonderful to see each school adapt the program’s concept into their own programs.
“I was really impressed. Language is a mindset, which is quite a deep concept, but simple in practice: it is about understanding and listening,” Aaron said.
The program is jointly funded by the Mt Thorley Warkworth and Ashton sites.
Taking care of mental health is not just a thing for young people, and there are workplace mental health programs in place across Yancoal sites.
“Our whole workforce has gone through mental health programs. The reality is we all need to have the tools to cope, regardless of our positions,” Aaron said.