29 May 2019
PERTH, 29 MAY 2019
Esperance High School is the latest school, joining dozens of others around Australia, to benefit from a mindfulness program that aims to improve the long-term mental health of students.
The school, located in the isolated southern coastal community of Esperance in Western Australia, has been selected by not-for-profit education and mindfulness organisation Smiling Mind as the latest beneficiary of an opportunity that offers the mindfulness program to Australian schools for free.
The offer has been made possible by a three-year charitable partnership between Smiling Mind and Frasers Property Australia. Now in its second year, the charitable partnership aims to reach 90 schools and bring the benefits of mindfulness to an extra 75,000 Australian children.
Esperance High School will start the program early next term, and they couldn’t be happier.
The school’s Mental Health in Schools Project Coordinator, Leanne Cassam says schools in isolated areas such as Esperance, which is more than 700 kilometres east of Perth, often find it difficult to access valuable programs, such as Smiling Mind.
“It is a huge boost for the school to be able to access this program,” Ms Cassam says.
“Being isolated is what makes this place special but it also brings with it other challenges. Our kids often miss out on the opportunities that city kids get because of how isolated we are. It costs a lot for people to come out and work with our school and we don’t have a big budget, so I am thrilled we were selected.”
Ms Cassam says she hopes the Smiling Mind program will provide school children a way they can look after their mental health before problems arise.
“My dream for the program is that we are giving the kids the tools they need to be proactive about their mental health. This is important in a place like
Esperance because often access to the services kids might need can be difficult,” she says.
“We have already been trialling the use of Smiling Mind in classrooms during term one and have received positive feedback from students and parents on the benefits.
More than 900 students will be offered the opportunity to take part in the Smiling Mind program at the school.
“It is so encouraging that we have been given the chance to offer this to our school community. We are a close-knit community so I am sure the benefits will go beyond our school.”
Smiling Mind Chief Executive Officer Dr Addie Wootten says bringing the benefits of mindfulness to all communities, regardless of where they are, is important.
“Working with students in particular is so important so they can start forming healthy habits early in life, as well as learning to build awareness and resilience” Dr Wootten says.
“With one in four secondary students and one in seven primary students suffering from a diagnosed mental illness it’s vital that we, as a community, do everything we can to take a proactive approach to preventing this health issue into the future.”
“We are making real progress reaching into more and more Australian communities.”
So far, the charitable partnership has allowed Smiling Mind to reach an extra 22,100 school children and more than 1,000 teachers through participation in training workshops. Globally the guided meditations and mindfulness activities available via the Smiling Mind app is reaching 1.8 million students.
Dr Wootten says some of the benefits of introducing mindfulness into schools can include:
Dr Wootten says that teachers, and parents, are positively impacted by students enrolling in the program.
“Teachers learn the skills they need to guide their students through the program and they can apply the techniques to manage their own stress. We also conduct a workshop for parents in each of the school communities we work in so that they can learn about mindfulness, support their children and also learn the techniques themselves,” says Dr Wootten.
Dr Wootten says the program, via the Smiling Mind app, is tailored to each year level and teachers receive support from the organisation over the whole school year to help introduce mindfulness into the classroom.
Rod Fehring, Chief Executive Officer of Frasers Property Australia, says Frasers Property not only looks at the physical environment people want to live in but all the other factors such as lifestyle, physical and mental health that contribute to overall wellbeing.
Frasers Property’s donation of $700,000 over three years – provided via the Frasers Property Foundation – enables Smiling Mind to offer the Smiling Mind professional learning program to educators at schools each year over the three-year partnership. In 2018 Smiling Mind signed on 23 schools through the partnership. Esperance High School is one of 30 schools expected to benefit this year.
“Our charitable partnership with Smiling Mind is a great opportunity for Frasers Property to make a contribution to creating healthy communities in Australia and it supports our goal of creating communities where people feel truly connected. This is one way we can make a positive long-term impact on children,” says Mr Fehring.
To find out more about how to register your school, visit: www.info.smilingmind.com.au/frasersprogram.