To recognise Mental Health Awareness week, we are highlighting the ways our school programmes utilise the five ways to wellbeing model to help people to be well.
Taking the time to Take Notice of the things we do that can make a difference to mental health in Kiwi Can, Career Navigator and Stars has filled us with lots of joy!
Connect, me whakawhanaunga
Talk and listen – me kōrero, me whakarongo, be there – me whakawātea i a koe, feel connected – me rongo i te whanaungatanga
The art of building and maintaining positive relationships is a key theme underpinning all of our programmes. From our inspiring Kiwi Can leaders who work in pairs to showcase and role-model what positive connection looks like, to enabling supportive relationships between Year 12/13 students and Year 9 high school newcomers through our Stars mentoring programme – we help equip our tamariki and rangatahi with the skills and confidence to connect with others and their community.
We love reading feedback that shows how much students value their connection with Kiwi Can leaders:
I love Kiwi Can because you always give us fun things to do and you’re always there when we need you. Also you let us play games and you are kind, you are helpful and you are the best instructor ever.” By Jin, Invercargill Middle School
Give your time, your words, your presence; tukua te wā ki a koe, ō kupu, ko koe tonu
We would not be able to support tamariki and rangatahi in the lower South Island if it wasn’t for the kind generosity of our community donors, funders and volunteers (including student volunteers) who make our programmes flourish. Through their acts of giving, they enrich the learning opportunities for students by providing different expertise, resources and even workplaces to visit.
Those involved tell us they enjoy the opportunity to give back, and what puts the icing on the cake is when students participate in our hallmark community projects (like daffodil planting with Gore District Council, or fundraising for Starship) which help students build an awareness and appreciation of what is available in their community – at the same time as giving back.
“I feel that stuff that I enjoy about Stars comes from the reward – helping other people makes me feel really good.” – Elise, Wakatipu High School Stars mentor
“In my final year at Gore High School I am participating in the Career Navigator programme… We are doing a community project and chose to fundraise for a charity. I am happy the class chose to fundraise for Starship and I have an opportunity to give back to the place that saved my life.” – Jacob Sheppard
Take notice, me aro tonu
Remember the simple things that give you joy – me aro tonu ki ngā mea māmā noa i ngākau harikoa ai koe.
A common theme across our programmes is teaching students ways to know themselves better, understand their emotions and what values are important to them. For example, lessons can include yoga, mindfulness and breathing techniques, as well as experiential demonstrations (with baking soda and vinegar!) of what can happen if emotions are bottled up too long. Tuning in and having tools to deal with emotions makes for better play time at school and life choices – and teachers and principals have noticed:
“As a staff we have definitely noticed a change out in the playground with students using the skills they have covered in Kiwi Can to help solve problems on their own before getting the teacher to help”.
Keep learning, me ako tonu
Embrace new experiences – awhitia te wheako hou, see opportunities – kimihia ngā ara hou, surprise yourself – me ohorere koe i a koe anō.
While our programmes are taught in school, they are deliberately different to a typical class lesson. Embracing experiential learning through activities and projects that take students out of their comfort zone, and outside of the classroom, we often hear feedback that our programmes are most appreciated for providing opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise be learnt at school. This ranges from upskilling with practical CV and interview-ready skills in Career Navigator, or providing opportunities to build leadership capability in Stars, to the focus on values, goal setting and teamwork skills put into action through Kiwi Can.
“Stars helps to teach them things (Year 9 students) they wouldn’t necessarily learn within the school curriculum. So a lot of life skills and things they will take on – hopefully – outside of high school as well.” – Keera, Wakatipu High School Stars peer mentor
Be active, me kori tonu
Do what you can – whāia te mea ka taea e koe, enjoy what you do – kia pārekareka tāu i whai ai, move your mood – kia pai ake ō piropiro
Opening lessons with ‘Energisers’ are part of our secret sauce across all Graeme Dingle programmes. Leaders and Coordinators use fun activities to get students’ bodies and brains warmed up for the lesson ahead. Some bigger moments in the curriculum – like the adventure camp in Stars and community projects that often involve physical activity like planting trees, also encourages students to move their bodies and engage with the outdoors and nature.
After a big day helping the Gore District Council plant daffodil bulbs, Mataura School pupil Avery Brannigan summed up her experience getting outside and helping the community:
“It helps people relax and helps people feel happier.”
At Graeme Dingle Foundation Southern we are proud of the ways we support our children and young people to develop self-belief, life skills and resilience, and build their emotional and mental wellbeing. You can help by signing up for our fundraising campaign, Drop for Youth. Learn more here.