First 12 months sees 23 Australian schools sign up for free schools program
- 921 Australian teachers have participated in training workshops
- 18,400 school children benefitting from free mindfulness program
SYDNEY, 21 JANUARY 2019
In the past 12 months, more than 18,400 school children across 23 schools nationally have benefitted from a charitable partnership between Smiling Mind and Frasers Property Australia.
Together, Frasers Property and mindfulness education organisation Smiling Mind aim to bring the benefits of mindfulness to 75,000 children at 90 schools for free.
The first year of the program has seen a steady uptake of the Smiling Mind program at schools in New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland, with 921 teachers now having participated in the organisation’s training workshops.
Parents too are benefitting through workshops held at each participating school, which introduce the concept and practice of mindfulness to parents and the wider community.
“We are making real progress reaching into more and more Australian communities and introducing the benefits of mindfulness,” says Smiling Mind Chief Executive Officer Dr Addie Wootten.
“Working with students in particular is so important to build awareness and resilience around mental health. It doesn’t matter what age they start.
“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.”
Dr Wootten says the program, with guided meditations and mindfulness activities available 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.
Roxburgh Rise Primary School, located 20km north of Melbourne in Roxburgh Park, is one of the 23 schools to sign up for the program this year, where more than 700 students, 530 families and 42 teachers are taking up the free program.
Principal Chris Bozikas says the school is grateful to have access to the valuable program at no cost to the school.
“Our school has a strong focus on student and staff wellbeing and we are aware that mindfulness can play a beneficial role in supporting wellbeing,” Chris Bozikas says.
“We were very excited to have the opportunity to offer the Smiling Mind program to our own school community. I really hope all the students, teachers and parents get on board and learn these valuable techniques.”
Dr Wootten says some of the benefits of introducing mindfulness into schools can include:
- Managing stress
- Developing emotional intelligence
- Enhancing creativity
- Enhancing decision making and problem-solving skills
- A sense of calm, clarity and contentment
“Teachers learn the skills they need to guide their students through the program and they can apply the techniques to manage their own stress. By including parents in each of the school communities we work in means they, along with teachers, can also support their children and have the opportunity to learn the techniques themselves,” says Dr Wootten.
Marisa Corsetti is Student Wellbeing Leading Teacher at Craigieburn South Primary School, which also adopted the Smiling Mind program this year.
She says since starting Smiling Mind in classrooms at the school, both students and teachers are feeling calmer and more positive.
“I have seen a real improvement in students in their ability to reflect on their emotions as well as managing their emotions to support positive outcomes,” Mrs Corsetti says.
“Students are recognising when they need time to calm down and are requesting Smiling Mind. They look forward to whole class Smiling Mind sessions as part of their daily routine. The whole school participates in Smiling Mind each Monday morning at assembly to commence their week positively.
“Teachers also are saying to me that Smiling Mind is helping them to transition students from outside back into the classroom. Smiling Mind is helping students to move on from minor issues that may have occurred outside.”
Mrs Cosetti says most classrooms are adopting the Smiling Mind program at Craigieburn South Primary School daily and the school plans to continue with the mindfulness program for future years.
“The benefits to teachers receiving the education around mindfulness are longstanding and something they will be able to draw on for many years to come,” she says.
Rod Fehring, Chief Executive Officer, Frasers Property Australia says supporting initiatives that build community resilience for the long-term is a core part of Frasers Property’s business.
“Every day we work on building new communities around Australia but a community is much more than bricks and mortar,” Mr Fehring says.
“We have to look not only at the physical environment where people want to live but all the other factors such as lifestyle, physical and mental health that contribute to overall wellbeing.
“Supporting Smiling Mind to expand its reach into more Australian schools is about contributing to the overall health of our communities. By doing everything we can to ensure our children are mentally fit to face their future is vitally important for all of us.”
Dr Wootten says Smiling Mind is looking for more schools to participate in the program next year.
“Our aim is to reach 90 schools over three years so we will be working hard to find and select schools around Australia that we feel will greatly benefit from this opportunity,” Dr Wootten says.
Dr Wootten encourages schools interested in the Smiling Mind program to email firstname.lastname@example.org.