Promoting mental health and wellbeing is important, especially now given the challenges of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. For Corangamite Shire-managed kindergartens, children’s mental health and wellbeing has been a key focus, and the Achievement Program has supported healthy change.
The kindergartens’ commitment to improve mental health and wellbeing has seen them receive Victorian Government recognition for meeting all targets in the program’s Mental Health and Wellbeing health area. The great initiatives have enhanced the kindergartens’ policies and practices, and increased the health awareness and skills of staff, children and their families.
Educating over 200 children at multiple locations across the Shire, some of the activities implemented by the kindergartens include:
- starting the day outside in nature
- mindfulness exercises to promote positive mental wellbeing
- a ‘feelings board’ where children share their emotional state and get to know how their peers are feeling
- mental health and wellbeing information displays for families
- establishing a Kindness Club
- a quiet corner with cuddle buddies
- cultural presentations from local families and excursions to cultural sites
- staff de-brief and walking meetings
- staff professional development training such as Indigenous culture training, Be You training, Bridges out of Poverty training.
“When working with the children we have seen some positive outcomes in the children’s behaviours and interactions with one another. The use of relaxation and mindfulness exercises have been a very rewarding experience for not only the children and families, but also for the staff.” Jane Bennett, early childhood educator, Simpson and District Kindergarten.
“It was an absolute joy to work with the educators at each setting. The Achievement Program is a great way to build on the work already happening in the health and wellbeing space. I’d strongly recommend the program to any setting wanting to create healthy change.” Laura Stevenson, health promotion officer, Terang and Mortlake Health Service.