Care and Connect is a terrific student well-being program making a difference in our student’s lives at White Rock Primary. Our Head of Primary School – White Rock Campus, Mr Peter Gazzola, explains what the program is about.
Resilience, empathy, and kindness are all essential life-long qualities children need. We believe citizenship and all these qualities are worth investing time in, so we have developed a specialty wellbeing program called Care and Connect at White Rock Campus Primary.
As a compulsory program, Care and Connect gathers students in multi-age groupings from Years 3 to 6. This grouping approach nurtures healthy social skills and encourages students to develop relationships with peers from other grades within their community.
At their core, the program modules and teacher activities are centred on the whole child approach which focuses on holistic education, looking beyond academia to support personal development.
The Peer Support Australia Program is an integral component of Care and Connect. For almost 50 years Peer Support Australia has provided essential support to Australian Schools. We share the same vision as Peer Support Australia; to positively impact the wellbeing of children and encourage healthier relationships and positive school culture.
During their weekly Care and Connect session, students rotate through several engaging activities, each comprising a four-week program. These activities are planned by teachers and link in with the Australian Curriculum. This is the Connect component and runs directly after the Year Six presentation. Importantly, this component is about reinforcing the wellbeing lessons and strengthening relationships across the student body from Years 3 to 6. The more relationships a student has, the more resilience they develop.
The second component are based on modules provided by Peer Support Australia – the activities are prepared and presented by the Year 6 students to the younger students. Involving our Year 6 students allows them to experience genuine leadership opportunities, develop skills of confidence, organisation, and time-management. This represents the care component of the program. Each Year Six student is provided a teacher mentor to internalise their experience.
Furthermore, the significance of increased student-teacher relationships across year levels is paramount to increased harmony in the playground.
Year 6 students also benefit the same way our younger students do, developing social skills and fostering an enhanced connection to the school and their community. To support the Year 6 students to become leaders, they participate in a two-day Leadership Training program developed by Peer Support Australia and delivered by our educators.
As an extension of the program, we include Prep to Six Caring Days and conduct Walk and Talk-a-thon days. On our Caring Days, all new students (from Prep to Year Six) place their handprint on our Caring Wall as a commitment to the student created motto, ‘TAS Kids are Caring Kids.’ As each child places their handprint, the community of students celebrate through rousing applause.
To ensure continued and rigorous growth of our Care and Connect program, we have invested time and resources into a two-year research project (through Independent Schools Queensland) to enhance teacher engagement.
As a result of Care and Connect, our educators gain a stronger value for student contribution leading to a more supportive classroom environment and a safe community built of responsible, contributing, caring students, staff, and families.