Turning strengths into positive actions

St Joseph’s Primary School, Merriwa, and the Where There’s A Will Foundation have been in partnership for about five years with the aim of effecting cultural change in the Upper Hunter through improved literacy of wellbeing and mental health in our schools, families and community.

The foundation’s Term 2 newsletter presented local students and families with the opportunity to be part of the “Power of You” challenge.

Where There’s A Will conceptualised the challenge in collaboration with four teachers from Upper Hunter Catholic schools to encourage students and families to discover their characters and to become more familiar with their strengths.

According to the Values in Action (VIA) Institute, everyone possesses 24 character strengths in different degrees, so each person has a unique character profile.

“Being a supporter of the Where There’s A Will Foundation and positive education in general, we decided to present this challenge to our families,” said St Joseph’s principal Ashley Borg.

“We thought, even though the challenge was presented on Where There’s A Will’s Facebook and Instagram pages, that we could do our bit and share the activities on our Facebook Page, to make life a little easier for our families.”

As part of the challenge, participants complete VIA’s character strengths survey from which they receive a report ranking the results.

“Students continuously refer to their character strengths when looking at a problem, working on individual and group tasks, and when working with their peers,” Mr Borg said. “The combination of character strengths makes for a good mix.”

“Once they have engaged with their top strengths, they are more able to articulate these and hopefully use them to help others and assist with overcoming some of the issues associated with the current pandemic.

Over the past five years, Catholic schools from the Upper Hunter have been engaging in training to assist them work effectively in schools with their students, in order to boost resilience, better understand mental health and to improve overall wellbeing. The Power of You Challenge aims to draw on this training, develop it further and share it with families.

Rihanna Hunt, Year 4 student at St Joseph’s, Merriwa, loves to dance and since COVID-19 has been doing online classes with her old dance family Step Up.

“It has been really good to be dancing with my old dance friends even though it has been a little different online,” Rihanna said. “I have shared my love of dance with my little sister Victoria who had been doing online dance as well.” 

Mr Borg said as a small, rural school, St Joseph’s hopes the Power of You challenge provides an opportunity for students and their families to spend more quality time together and further connect with some of the work done in schools.

“You never know, our parents might discover a hidden character strength they didn’t know about.”

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Alexander Foster Image
Alexander Foster

Alexander Foster is the Digital Communications Officer in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle