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New toolkit to help schools support student wellbeing

New toolkit to help schools support student wellbeing
Canterbury DHB media release
21 June 2017

All Right? has launched a free wellbeing toolkit to support young people with their mental health and wellbeing.

Sparklers consists of 36 activities that teachers can use to help their year 1-8 students feel calmer, happier, and more ready to learn. The activities take between 10 minutes and 1 hour, are aligned with the school curriculum, and cover a wide range of wellbeing topics including managing emotions, living in the moment, being grateful and showing kindness.

Dr Lucy Hone, research associate at AUT University’s Human Potential Centre and All Right? Advisory Committee member, says Sparklers will help young people learn the skills they need to build positive mental health.

“Sparklers enables young people to learn strategies that improve wellbeing and build resilience. The activities are designed to help students feel good and function well, and improve their ability to cope with change and navigate the challenges life throws at them,” Lucy says.

Dr Hone says student wellbeing is strongly linked to learning.

“Students with high levels of wellbeing make better learners, find it easier to focus in the classroom and are able to build stronger and meaningful relationships,” Lucy says.

Dr Harith Swadi, Canterbury DHB's clinical director for Child Adolescent and Family, says Sparklers has been developed in response to requests from schools for more support to meet the wellbeing needs of Canterbury students post-quake.

“Schools are crying out for more support so they can meet their students’ wellbeing needs,” says Harith. “There’s a tremendous desire amongst schools to do more in the wellbeing area but up until now there hasn’t been a lot of practical guidance on how to go about it.

“Sparklers pulls together evidence based wellbeing activities in a way that’s easy to implement in the classroom. The activities are simple, easy, and proven to work,” Harith says.

“We’ve piloted Sparklers in several Canterbury schools and the response has been amazing. Schools are incredibly enthusiastic about Sparklers and the activities are making a real difference,” Harith says.
Sue Turner, All Right? manager, says that while Sparklers had its genesis in recovery from the greater Christchurch earthquakes, its content is relevant to tamariki throughout New Zealand.

“We think of Sparklers as a kind of gift to the nation. It’s a really positive thing that’s come out of the earthquakes, and its benefits will extend far beyond Canterbury,” Sue says.

Sue says in addition to the 36 activities for teachers, All Right? has created six parenting guides.

“The parenting guides provide handy tips and tricks on the key areas parents often ask about, including how to help your child be calm, be grateful and manage worries.

“Raising a resilient and happy child isn’t always easy but there are things parents and carers can do that can make a big difference. Just like us, tamariki face daily demands and worries. Knowing what these are and the best ways to address them can prevent little things turning into really big things,” Sue says.

The Mental Health Foundation’s general manager Daemon Coyle says Sparklers represents an important step for New Zealand in increasing its efforts to promote wellbeing and reduce the prevalence of mental illness.

“This programme will help to empower young people, teachers and whanau to have courageous conversations about mental health,” Daemon says.

“It is crucial for us to give young people skills and tools to build positive mental health and wellbeing to support and sustain them throughout their lives.”

Sparklers has been made possible thanks to funding from the Canterbury Earthquake Appeal Trust and Canterbury District Health Board and support from the Canterbury DHB’s Community and Public Health and School Based Mental Health Team.

To find out more about Sparklers, visit www.allright.org.nz/sparklers

The parenting guides, as well information on nearly 70 Canterbury parenting courses, can be found at www.allright.org.nz/parents

All Right? is a collaboration between the Canterbury District Health Board and the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand which was established to support on the psychosocial recovery of Cantabrians following the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.

ends

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