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Thumbs Up For Life Education

Thumbs Up For Life Education

The Life Education Trust’s life skills programme has been given the thumbs up in an independent evaluation report commissioned and released by The Eastern and Central Community Trust.

The report is part of The Eastern and Central Community Trust’s policy of responsible management and accountability for the distribution of funds within its coverage area.

The report covered all five trusts in Manawatu, Wairarapa, Hawkes Bay, Poverty Bay, and Horowhenua which fall within the boundaries.

“The conclusions that such a rigorous indepth and independent evaluation process makes has really put the icing on the cake in this our 15th year of operation” said Life Education Trusts’s CEO Tim Rogerson.

The author of the report, Colin McJannett, is a consultant with a degree in psychology. He spoke to senior educationalists, principals and teachers in the region who applauded and endorsed Life Education’s valuable contribution to the lives of New Zealand children and the benefits to the wider community.

The evaluation findings showed that the Life Education programmes are designed to act as a resource to both complement and supplement the current Health and Physical education syllabus as taught in our primary education system. The programmes are fully integrated into this syllabus and receive positive feedback from participants (the children), parents, teachers, principals and educators by delivering timely and relevant life skills messages. The aim of these messages is to give children the relevant skills so they have the tools to make healthy and considered life skills choices now and in the future.

The report attributes Life Education’s success to a series of factors:-

· The expertise and abilities of the professionally trained educators who deliver the messages in a positive and informative style.

Life ed …2

· The high-tech mobile classroom. This gives schools an alternative and safe learning environment for interactive participation by the children with tools such as electronic modules, pull-apart torso and transparent anatomical models that ordinarily would be unavailable in the normal classroom setting.

· ‘Harold’ the Giraffe Life Education’s mascot also rates a special mention. As the giver of the underlying messages of each programme his visits become a highlight with the children of all ages in the mobile classrooms.

· Take home workbooks produced in both English & Maori versions that complement the lessons learned in the mobile and which also take the Life Education messages into the home environment.

· The programme visits schools by invitation not by right thus ensuring a “perform or perish” control mechanism that ensures both accountability and confidence in Life Education’s programmes are maintained.

The report also highlights Life Education’s ability to ensure that programmes are relevant to each age group. This is another key to their success and accountability. An example cited in the ECCT evaluation is “From the Shadows”, a five session unit designed to meet the needs of year 8 students in Drug and Alcohol Education.

Palmerston North Intermediate Normal principal, David Jopson, said that despite being initially reluctant to participate due to their current health education programme and being also conscious of “sowing the seeds” too early to an impressionable age group his school nevertheless trialled the programme.

“It is an innovative programme delivered by a team of highly professional educators and teachers in partnership with the school and its community” he is quoted as saying in the report. “It upskilled the school community’s knowledge and understanding in relation to drug use and misuse, opened up communication channels between parents and children to discuss the topic properly, and emphasised the importance of a health promoting school where all members of the school community work together to support the implementation of a health focused programme”. “After trialling this unit school wide and observing the positive impact it has had on students, parents, and their teachers, I thoroughly recommend that schools give thought to incorporating this unit in their Health Educational Programme” he said.

Anne Tuffin, a senior health education lecturer who has been an acting adviser in schools in the southern part of the North Island, is also cited in the report. Her finding amongst schools using Life Education is that they “love it, use it, welcome it. It is increasingly seen as a supplement and support to the current Health syllabus”.

“The real power of Life Education is it motivates, it stimulates and rises above the mundane.” Life ed …3

Colin McJannett further noted in his evaluation that the other success of the Life Education was its community ownership.

“From the history of growth since its inception in 1988, Life education has demonstrated the strength of its voluntary trustee support and community acceptance. The local Community Trusts ensure that the delivery of the resource remains relevant to their communities. Yet, whilst financially sound, the long-term viability is dependent on grants and fundraising”.

“No funds have been have been received from central government, despite some claims that Life Education received a grant at its inception. Thus its success has been dependant upon ongoing community and school support and philanthropic trust grants.”

“I suspect that what has been achieved without government funding is a unique achievement within Australasia.”

While acknowledging that Life Education’s success is difficult to measure the report concedes that there is evidence that the programme adds to the students well being and it is apparent from their behaviour and teacher’s and principal’s comments, that students demonstrate an understanding and motivation that didn’t exist prior to them attending a Life Education Mobile.

Feedback from the programme has been extremely positive with 99% recall of a unit from students some twelve months later, it says.

“This has been a most gratifying evaluation”, says Tim Rogerson CEO of Life Education. “It really re-enforces all the years of struggle by our volunteers who believe so strongly in our programme. Our messages that are given to the children are such that they can be taken on into adulthood- they are relevant at any age”.

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