April 1 - 7, 2018: Issue 354

Emotional Health Forum at Barrenjoey High School Launches Wellbeing Spaces

Year 12 Student & Vice Captain Ariel Wheeler and Ms Sarah Peachman cut the ribbon at the opening of the Wellbeing Space at Barrenjoey. Photo courtesy BHS.

Wednesday March 28th provided an amazing community opportunity. Three organisations have come together with one thing in mind: the emotional health of youth on the northern beaches.

Thanks goes to the Hon Rob Stokes, Councillor Kylie Ferguson, members of OneEighty Avalon, The Youth Hub Avalon and Barrenjoey High School for their hard work and dedication to meet the needs and shift the tide for our younger citizens. 

Congratulations to Barrenjoey SRC on the opening of the Wellbeing Space. The Wellbeing Space provides senior students with space to proactively manage their emotional wellbeing.

Councillor Kylie Ferguson attended the Emotional Health Forum to introduce Justene Gordon, CEO of The Burdekin Association, and speak about the Avalon Youth Hub which will open on May 18th.

"I can’t tell you how excited I am and how pleased I am to be here tonight, at the announcement of this Youth Hub. I have always been passionate about the Youth. " Cr. Ferguson said

"I am a mother of sons and know full well the pressure the youth face today. Unfortunately it was escalated home to me, when one of my son’s friends, who was in the same soccer team, committed suicide. It was so sad and felt helpless. 

"After this, I had a meeting with the Administrator at Council asking for some funding for a space to be allocated in the north of the Peninsula. I saw a gap, that needed to be addressed. I was successful in lobbying for $90,000 per year for two years and was happy to have the wonderful Burdekin Association, Barrenjoey High assist to getting it to this stage. 

"I have wonderful respect for Leanne and Paris Jeffcoat from the One Eighty.org. who are doing an amazing job, reaching out to the Youth. None of us can get through mental health difficulties without being willing to have a conversation and being able to admit that we might need some help. 

"Well this Youth Hub, can help us have that conversation

Ian Bowsher, BHS Principal, ran a full recap of the forum in this week's BHS newsletter: 

Emotional Health Forum on Wednesday 28 March

Last night Barrenjoey High School hosted two significant events, the opening of the Wellbeing Space and the Emotional Health Forum.

Barrenjoey HS opened the Wellbeing Space on Wednesday the 28th March. Both Ms Peachman and myself had the great honour of congratulating the Senior Leaders of the SRC for their work in initiating this project and then in gaining public support to take it from ‘concept’ to reality. Ariel Wheeler and Eli Thomson (Year 12) gave a fantastic speech and narrated the story behind the need for a Wellbeing Space, which will provide a place for Barrenjoey senior students to proactively manage their emotional wellbeing.

Ian Bowsher, Eli Thomson and Ariel Wheeler - photo courtesy Cr. Kylie Ferguson

Seniors, instead of attending the Senior Study can reserve the Space. It is a technology-free zone for a handful of students at a time where mindfulness activities are possible and calming activities are encouraged. It is planned, that in the future the space will host workshops and events on Wellbeing with the aim of promoting and valuing emotional health as part of a healthy lifestyle.

The Emotional Health Forum was the second event on the 28th March and saw many community members attend. The Hon. Rob Stokes introduced One Eighty Avalon, Avalon Youth Hub and Barrenjoey HS as all three enterprises explained what they are doing in the field of emotional health.

OneEighty Avalon was represented by Paris Jeffcoat (Co-founder), Leroy Wiseman (Open Up Manager) and Samantha Callender (Online Content Manager). They outlined the three areas that they are focusing on:

  1. Immediate Support
  2. Culture Change, and
  3. Growing Ourselves

It was a terrific summary of the wonderful work being done by OneEighty and their real ability to deliver a service that young people want.

Their Open Up and Shake It Up sessions are garnering great support and their blog is highly engaging and relevant to our kids. I encourage you to spend some time foraging on their website: www.oneeighty.org.au

The Avalon Youth Hub was introduced by Councillor Kylie Ferguson and had the CEO of The Burdekin Association, Justene Gordon and representatives from Goodwill Hunting Jose and Sera present. They described the concept of a Youth Hub as:

  1. A place where young people (12-24yrs) and the community can be connected to support services.
  2. A place that provides services to young people, parents, carers, friends.
  3. A Hub that extends into the community to engage and to strengthen it.

During opening times the Youth Hub will be staffed by professionally trained workers who have experience working with young people and their support people.

Anyone can make an appointment, drop in, send a message through Facebook, email or mobile phone to meet with a worker and have a chat.

Initially, from May 18, the Youth Hub will operate out of the Avalon Recreation Centre with the opening hours expected to be: Monday and Friday 9-5pm

Wednesday and Thursday after 3pm – to be confirmed.

More information will be able to be sourced from www.avalonyouthhub.org.au once this website, which is currently under construction is completed.

Barrenjoey High School also took to the stage to describe their journey over the past year in putting together a comprehensive wellbeing program. Along with Jeff Brown and Kalinda Hawson, I outlined the eight major initiatives that we have now integrated into our school:

  1. Designed a Wellbeing matrix so that emotional health is addressed in each year group
  2. Expertly developed ‘Life skills for Emotional Wellbeing’ workshops to Year 10 delivered by local mental health professional.
  3. Coordinated courses for staff and community, most notably the Accidental Counsellor Course
  4. Introduced Headstrong 2.0, a Black Dog program into the teaching of PDHPE
  5. Linked with Macquarie University to survey our student body on the prevalence of emotional ill-health
  6. Student developed Wellbeing Room
  7. Pushed the case for a Youth Hub in Avalon
  8. Developed an Emotional Health website

It is on the last point that we officially unveiled the new Emotional Health website: www.emotionalhealthatbarrenjoey.com.au/#

We demonstrated the ease of this website that allows the user to navigate the hundreds of sites that currently address emotional health issues. 

The site is also being demonstrated to all students through their PDHPE lessons so all students will get a chance to work with it. As a parent and community member I encourage you to have a look at what the school has created.

Thank you to all the people who helped make Wednesday night possible. It truly has been a collection of community, non-government organisations, Council, State Government and of course school resources that has made and continues to make these great initiatives a reality.

Have a great week... Ian Bowsher