ROCKed for rocky times

Repair-Restore-Renew 2009
Kinglake, Vic - $20,570

A positive psychology program, called ROCKed (Resilience, Optimism and Confidence for Kids) was implemented in schools in the Kinglake community, as a post-disaster response intended to reinstate optimism and resilience in youth and children who have seen happier days.

The program was developed in partnership with Greg Donaghue, Wominjeka Youth Group and staff and volunteers of the Kinglake Youth Group. Together, they brought positive psychology education service ThinkEd Australia to the Kinglake community in 2011.

Funded via Repair-Restore-Renew, Bouncing Back sessions for adults were offered free to members of the community on Tuesday evenings over a five week period, and two day professional development series for teachers, community workers, youth workers, volunteers, parents and other adults who work with children were subsidised through the funding so that they could be made available at a decreased rate for Kinglake residents.

The Positive Education Programs at Kinglake Primary School and Middle Kinglake Primary School got teachers and students exploring several themes through interactive activities, including controlling emotions and behaviour; creating opportunities for gratitude and optimism; and learning how to identify strengths in themselves and others.

Greg Donoghue, Director of ThinkEd, said:

“These sessions were sometimes quite moving, with students grappling with a new self-concept which was based on their strengths, rather than their weaknesses.”

When asked what they liked about the program, one of the students was heard to say, “My cheeks are starting to hurt from smiling.” Another child said that in the future “when something bad happens, I can now think of positive ways to be happy”. One vowed to “teach the same things to my brother and other kids.”

There was also a noticeable sense of community between the students.

“A number of issues raised during the sessions were somewhat confronting for some students, but they were quickly surrounded by their peers who gave them unconditional emotional support,” said Mr Donoghue.

“In short, the school is already living many of the Positive Education principles, and the program simply made those practices more explicit.”