Welcome to the October issue of Life Education Queensland Pulse.
One of the rewards of working for this wonderful organisation is having the opportunity to hear the many positive stories and testimonies from parents and teachers about our program’s impact on children. It’s what motivates and inspires us as a team, to know that we’re helping to lay the foundations for young people to make safer and healthier choices in life – choices that support our next generation to achieve their full potential.
Incredibly, in just the past term, we received feedback from more than 2,500 Queensland parents, reflecting on the changes they’ve seen in their children following their participation in Life Education.
A group of parents from various parts of Queensland recently took the time to share that amazing feedback with us. We put their responses together in this inspiring video which I’m sure you’ll agree powerfully demonstrates the transformational impact of the Life Education program.
Over the past 12 months, we’ve provided health education to 201,132 children from more than 800 schools and pre-schools – an amazing achievement despite the Covid pandemic. Here are some of our other recent achievements:
This impact just wouldn’t be possible without the ongoing support of our funding partners, regular donors and the State Government.
In this issue of Pulse:
There’s much to celebrate and there’s also so much work to be done. Supporting children to be healthy, safe and resilient is a huge task. Parents, schools, the charitable sector, business, government – everyone has a role to play to build communities where children can thrive.
As always, we thank the Queensland Government, Health and Wellbeing Queensland, Communities for Children, Northern Queensland PHN and our many Kids Protect Team donors.
Sadly, bullying is a growing problem with one in four Australian children in years 4 to 9 reporting being bullied every few weeks and one in five children in year 4 experiencing bullying on a weekly basis.
Working with schools to empower children with the social and emotional skills to address these challenges is more important than ever.
It’s why Life Education Queensland has developed a new anti-bullying and resilience program for students in Grade 4, called Harold’s Kind Classrooms (HKC) with support from Queensland Health’s immediate support measures COVID-19 Grant Fund.
Harold’s Kind Classrooms is not just another bullying program. It aims to reduce the incidence of bullying by taking a strengths-based approach, using kindness and positive social support as key strategies to motivate behaviour change.
The new initiative will be piloted at Varsity College primary campus in term four, with roll out of the full program due to take place in term two, 2022.
Aligned to the Australian National Curriculum, the five-week teacher-led program features a suite of content including five lesson plans, student kindness journals, daily student activities, positive leadership incentives for students and supporting resources for parents.
Social Impact Team Manager Sharon Lansley said HKC was designed to increase students’ social-emotional literacy and assist them in making and maintaining positive, healthy friendships.
“The program works by strengthening students’ understanding and ability to develop and demonstrate key attributes associated with kindness including empathy and compassion, collaboration, self-awareness and gratitude,” Ms Lansley said.
“By practising and reflecting on these things through a range of program touch points, children gain an understanding of how their positive behaviour choices not only benefit them as individuals but also improve their relationships with their peers.”
Our social impact team recently spoke to Year 4 students at Varsity College on the Gold Coast and Mackay’s Andergrove State School about what kindness means to them and how they look after their emotional wellbeing. You’ll be amazed at their insightful responses.
Often, the lessons learned in the Life Education van benefit the whole family. That’s certainly the case for the Clay family from Townsville who say the program is helping their children to make good life choices.
Mother-of-three Annie Clay can still remember the Life Education program from her own school days.
“I still remember how excited I was when my class visited the Life Education program, and now, my three children are getting to have the same experience, which is magical,” Mrs Clay says.
“What I love, is that the program is as relevant now as it was for me when I was in primary school, so I’m so glad it’s continued, it’s age-appropriate and it’s been updated to reflect the world children are growing up in today.”
Mrs Clay says Healthy Harold and the wide range of lessons learned in the Life Education van have a strong influence on her family’s healthy choices.
“It’s funny, but I will often say to the children in a playful way, ‘What would Harold say?’ or ‘We need to eat our fruit and veggies because Harold says it’s good for us.’ He’s a bit of an icon and the way the program educators engage him to reinforce healthy body and wellbeing messages has a big impact on young people.”
As a maths tutor, Mrs Clay knows that connecting with children is crucial when trying to impart important knowledge and skills.
“The Life Education program does this really well. My daughter Evie came home from school recently after her class had their Life Education session and she was absolutely bursting with health-related knowledge that she wanted to share.
“Evie told me numerous times about how bad smoking is, and that has initiated family discussions about smoking and other drugs and the repercussions of doing drugs.
“I was impressed when she recalled that cigarettes have 7000 different chemicals in them and one of the ingredients is even used in toilet cleaner!”
Mrs Clay’s older son has benefited from the social and emotional skills he’s gained through the Life Education program.
“He is about to become a teenager, so having open communication with him right now especially, when we’re about to hit that new phase of life is invaluable,” Mrs Clay says.
“Knowing that we’ve already built 12 years of open communication about all of these topics – mental health, cybersafety, relationships, personal health, the things that Harold does bring into the picture in the later years, I feel like we’re prepared for the teenage years which is good.”
Mrs Clay acknowledges that whilst parents do their best to give children the knowledge and skills they need to thrive, it’s powerful to have so many important topics and issues presented by specialist educators in a peer-group setting.
“The education of my children is really one of the most important things in my life, because the education they receive now is setting them up for life, literally. It’s so important that we have good information from a trusted source … and there is so much information out there now, so knowing that it’s from somewhere that I trust and that it’s being delivered in an exciting way, is just priceless. It’s so wonderful.”
Life Education Queensland’s trail-blazing Healthy Eats program has hit a new milestone with four north Queensland schools gaining full accreditation for achieving a ‘gold standard’ healthy school food environment.
Mossman State School, Julatten Primary and Jubilee Christian College all in Cairns, and Bucasia State School in Mackay, have all gained full accreditation status with the program which is designed to boost vegetable and fruit consumption in primary school children.
To achieve Healthy Eats accreditation, schools work towards ten key benchmarks ranging from breakfast programs and establishing a thriving vegetable garden to daily ‘brain breaks’ for children and teachers and tuckshop menu audits.
Mossman school principal Randal Smith says the school couldn’t be prouder to be one of the first to achieve the milestone.
“Being the first school to achieve Healthy Eats Accreditation in Queensland definitely brings an element of pride, but mostly I feel privileged that we have been able to take our community, our students and our staff on a journey of discovery,” Mr Smith said.
“Our school improvement journey, together with Healthy Eats program has enabled us to partner with our Aboriginal community in a positive way and help change the eating habits of some of our vulnerable families up at Mossman Gorge, and that has been really powerful.”
Mossman Primary has seen substantial changes to their tuckshop with the convenor working closely with Healthy Eats and the Queensland Association of School Tuckshops to create a Smart Choices tuckshop menu that is a hit with families and students.
“Our tuckshop is now 90% green using the Smart Choices traffic light system and it’s received a 5 green apple ranking from the QAST,” Mr Smith said.
“This is a tremendous change from where it was before, and the tuckshop is thriving as a result. We’ve even needed to bring on a new member of staff to keep up with tuckshop demand.”
Each school that achieves full Healthy Eats accreditation earns a Life Education Queensland grant of up to $1000 to support the school to focus on initiatives that encourage healthy eating.
Mossman School will put their reward money towards a new dishwasher for the tuckshop, Jubilee Christian College will use the funds to buy a new barbecue, Julatten State School will create a fund for healthy cook ups and Bucasia State School will invest in garden bed equipment.
To find out more about the Healthy Eats program, the accreditation process and rewards available to your school visit https://lifeeducationqld.org.au/healthy-eats/.
Healthy Eats has also expanded to southeast Queensland with Ipswich East State School, Riverview State School and Gaven Primary on the Gold Coast all adopting the program.
Ipswich East State School students were excited to join in a Healthy Eats photo shoot after their hands-on nutrition session which gave them plenty of inspiration.
“Eating healthy food actually helps your hair grow and it means our bodies have less chance of suffering illness and disease,” said Year 5 student Jaxyn Miabox.
Alicia Kusu said the session reminded her that healthy food can be fun and tasty while Logan Daw learned that food is the body’s fuel.
“If you eat everyday foods, your lungs get stronger and your body and brain get stronger,” Logan said.
Life Education Queensland nutritionist Jaclyn Coffey said southeast schools had positively embraced the program.
“Healthy Eats is much more than just teaching children to identify and enjoy healthy foods,” Ms Coffey said. “We utilise a whole toolkit of resources that is adapted to meet each school’s needs.
“It’s exciting to witness a real transformation in children’s eating habits. By the end of the program, students understand why it’s important to eat healthy to get the nutrients and energy their bodies need, but they also gain clear strategies on how to adopt healthy choices.”
Still on healthy eating, we are pleased to offer a free digital resource from our major partner Woolworths Fresh Food Kids. Since 2018, Woolworths has supported Life Education to help children live safer and healthier lives.
Recently, Woolworths relaunched the Fresh Food Kids Discovery Tours program with an exciting digital twist! A free curriculum-aligned program teaching kids everything from food production to sustainability using fun augmented reality activities to take them from a Woolworths store to the farm, right from the comfort of the classroom.
Recent research* has shown that Aussie children are becoming less aware of where the food on their plate comes from, and many couldn’t identify common veggies. The research identified that less than half of the kids could identify a beetroot or leek.
We all know that eating vegetables is important for our growing kids. So how can we get our children to eat more?
Starting at the very beginning, before we even get vegetables onto the plate, learning how they grow has been demonstrated to increase a child’s willingness to try vegetables and increase their preference for consuming them, along with a host of other benefits.
The program for Year 5 and 6 is available now and it’s a great time to plan to utilise the free resource for Term 4. If you’re a teacher click here to get your free classroom kit.
And if you are teaching students remotely right now, there is a guide that helps you facilitate all the lessons remotely.
The program will be available for Kindergarten/Prep to Year 4 from early 2022.
*Woolworths research conducted July/August 2021, n=1,004 kids aged 6-14 years old, across Australia. Data has been weighted to ensure nationally representative of all states, ages of children and their gender.
At Life Education Queensland, we believe that all children should have access to vital health and safety education no matter where they live, even if it’s in the state’s most remote regions.
Educator Jordan Kite recently took Healthy Harold and the Life Education mobile learning centre on an epic journey to reach schools in Urandangi, Dajarra, Winton and Boulia in north-west and central-west Queensland.
“It was a mission getting to these places. I travelled with lots of food, a 10-litre container of water and a 20-litre petrol can,” Jordan explains.
“You stand out like a sore thumb when you turn up in the outback with a huge caravan with a giraffe on it,” she says, laughing.
“Some of the children had never encountered Healthy Harold, but the response was so encouraging.
“The kids were enthralled with the content from the word go and their enjoyment was evident right until the end of the session.”
Although she has worked as a schoolteacher in mainstream classrooms, Jordan says the holistic focus of the Life Education program appealed to her.
“After a period of overseas travel, I realised that my teaching passion lay in developing children’s confidence, resilience and emotional regulation and their overall holistic wellbeing.
“Supporting young people to be their most confident best selves is what I find rewarding.”
A new high-tech mobile learning centre is now the focal point for the Life Education program in Central Queensland with the unveiling of a $130,000 new van for the region.
The van features a 75-inch smart screen, and the latest audio visual and 3D technology, including augmented reality, which allows children to see what organs in the human body look like.
At the ripe old age of 30, the previous van had clocked up thousands of miles. The new mobile classroom was made possible thanks to the CQ Life Education committee and grants from the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation and Aurizon.
Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga MP, (also a Life Education ambassador) and Assistant Minister for Education, joined educator Dr Liz Hills to cut the ribbon on the new MLC, which will benefit more than 10,000 children and 50 schools across the region.
“Life Education is a rite of passage for so many children as they go through their primary school years, and it’s wonderful that this new mobile learning centre will enable the program to reach and educate thousands more children across the region in the coming decades,” Ms Lauga said.
Park Avenue State School students were among the first to experience the new classroom on wheels.
“The feedback from students about the new van environment has been fantastic,” said principal Helen Heery.
“As educators, we know that when children are captivated by learning, they are more likely to remember important messages that will influence their decisions for years to come. Life Education is so beneficial in helping children to make good choices around staying healthy, as well as providing the tools to build emotional resilience.”
Three passionate and experienced new educators have joined Life Education Queensland.
Elise Woodrow covers the busy northern Gold Coast corridor while Sara Allen and Niccola Harwood have joined the program in the growing Ipswich and Logan regions.
We asked the educators what they love about their new role.
“I graduated with a Bachelor of Nutrition degree in 2020 and worked as a primary school teacher aide for eight years. There was no doubt in my mind when deciding to apply for the health and drug educator role at Life Education Queensland.”
“Having the opportunity to empower young minds every day to make healthy decisions for a bright, happy and safe future drives me to be the most impactful and engaging educator I can be. The laughs, the smiles, the questions, the conversations and comments like, “Oh I wish we could stay here for the rest of the day; I want to know more!” are the absolute highlights of my visits to each school.”
“Being able to influence students at such an integral age is what inspired me to apply and eventually work for LEQ. I’ve never had a role where I’ve felt so welcome and inspired to make a difference. The students love seeing the mobile learning centre arrive at school and always ask when they will get to see Harold.”
“There hasn’t been one school where a child hasn’t asked me to please say hello to Harold when I get the chance! Being so welcomed into a school is truly a magic experience.”
“I first studied a Bachelor of Social Science and became greatly interested in health promotion during this time. I later completed a Master of Teaching (Secondary). After teaching in a high school for 18 months, I knew my passion was in the health education field.”
“The best of part of a day in the van are the ‘shock and awe moments’, when the lights go off, stars come on and the students get excited because they haven’t seen it before; or when you teach students something they didn’t know before, and they are really surprised and interested by that information. This is when you can see just how important Life Education’s work with children is!”