By Andrew Lodiong, Naracoorte Herald
The Naracoorte community learned some valuable life lessons from the nationally renowned Resilience Project this week.
In an hour long seminar presented by education manager Martin Heppell on Tuesday, Naracoorte High School students heard stories and saw statistics on mental health factors currently affecting many young people.
Mr Heppell said: “It’s important to spread these messages because the kids don’t know the strategies they can use to support themselves when they are dealing with hard times.
“It’s about giving those kids positive mental well-being strategies that they can use when they are in a need or a part of their world can benefit from it.”
Although only being with the project for 12 months, Mr Heppell can already see through survey results a shift in the mindsets of young people.
”They start scanning the world for the positives and not the negatives and that impacts the way they see the world,” he said.
The Melbourne-based initiative was founded by Hugh van Cuylenburg and has been touring Australia over the past five years.
After hearing about the project through word of mouth and the media, school principal Kym Grant knew it was something that needed to happen.
“We did our homework on the program and spoke to some schools interstate,” he said.
“The feedback was excellent and from there we decided that’s where we will head.”
Mr Grant said the statistics about the chances of adolescents experiencing mental illness were enough to convince him to host the seminar.
“The services available is not as much as we need and not as accessible from an area point of view,” Mr Grant said.
Mr Grant felt exposure to the project would have a positive impact on the students.
“It’s going to have an immense impact on the way we work with our students. It will help them with the pressures that life throws at them.”
Mr Grant was also present at a community presentation on Tuesday night at the town hall. An estimated 150 people who were a mix of parents, community members and local business owners came out for the event.
Mr Grant felt the Resilience Project received an overwhelmingly positive reception.
“There was a positive vibe and many people thanked Martin for the presentation,” he said. He went on to explain why it was important for the wider community to also learn the techniques.
“If we are to support our adolescents then everyone needs to be on board. Parents and other members need to know the strategies,” Mr Grant said.