KidsMatter program lifts spirits at Cherrybrook Public School

WHEN Cherrybrook Public School pupil Abbey Brown entered the KidsMatter Positive Postcard competition last year she wasn't expecting to be the state junior winner.

"I was very surprised," the eight-year-old said.

The theme to the competition was "Every face has a place".

When asked about her drawing, Abbey said: "I wanted to show five friends in a group, that whatever your skin colour, whatever your hair colour, you belong."

The Positive Postcard competition was a national event run by KidsMatter Primary; this year the children can create a Positive Poster.

KidsMatter Primary is an Australian school-based initiative to improve the mental health and wellbeing of pupils.

A mental health study found 14 per cent of Australian children and adolescents experienced mental health problems — and of those, only one in four got the help they needed.

Year 4 teacher Beth Chant was the driving force behind getting KidsMatter into the school.

She noticed teachers were commenting on a lack of resilience among pupils and wanted to do something about it.

With the support of her principal Peter Corney and help from teacher Dianne Basso, she went looking for a resilience program but found KidsMatter instead.

"I wanted more than another program," Mrs Chant said.

"I wanted to go a step further and embed good mental health into our school culture, curriculum and our practices."

Mr Corney said he was proud of how his teachers had embraced KidsMatter and how the students were responding.

He acknowledged that mental health difficulties were increasing.

"I see the need and we are addressing it," he said.

"We won't bury our heads in the sand. KidsMatter arms the children with strategies to approach these things in life."

KidsMatter printed 1000 copies of Abbey's winning postcard and they are now being used at the school by the staff to reward students' contributions to mental health within and outside the school.

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