Doing it for the kids

Doing it for the kids

Gosnells Primary School student Ray Pel and principal Craig Anderson. Photograph – Aaron Van Rongen.

With mental health affecting the community, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gosnells Primary School went above and beyond with its first R U OK? event to ensure young children are prepared for life’s challenges.

About 410 students, 60 staff, volunteers and the Gosnells Child and Parents Centre attended the event.

Some of the highlights included a 40-minute strategy walk, where children were given tools and different strategies they could use when feeling blue.

Members of the Resilience and Leadership Workshops (IZRA) also attended the celebration and taught children how to be resilient and use the challenges they face to get stronger.

Other activities included a 40-minute yoga session, a music, reading and grammar station and a healthy eating and painting station.

School principal Craig Anderson said the R U OK? event was an important day to give children the skills to identify their emotions, especially after 2020’s unprecedent world crisis.

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“With the message about reaching out to your friends and knowing there is more to say after are you okay, we felt it was a really strong message we needed to promote, this year in particular with COVID-19 and all the restrictions that have been put on us and our children, we thought it was important to have a celebration,” he said.

“If they are not right emotionally, they are not going to learn, so we put a lot of time in emotional awareness and emotional regulation in our classrooms to make sure our kids are happy.”

Year six student Hadiya Sahar Shefahi said she learnt how to differentiate different emotions by using colours that could represent the good and bad side of things.

“I can now find a way to help myself and my friends around me,” she said. “Before all of this and R U OK? Day, there wasn’t much information about mental health and the information and support that was needed.

“But now I talk about mental health with my family and I tell my mum whenever I am feeling blue.”

The event organiser, Amanda Young, said talking about mental health at a very young age was crucial for their development.

“We see kids getting annoyed at not being able to deal with their emotions,” she said.

“So, knowing to identify when they are feeling that way and ask for help before it becomes a bigger problem is really important.

“We do see more social emotional problems in the area of Gosnells but it doesn’t matter what area you live in; young children should have access to mental health information and get the support they need at all times.”