Bringing colour to students lives

Schools from the Upper Hunter region embraced the second annual Positive Education Day with flying colours on Monday 4 November.

The initiative was launched in 2018 by the Where There's a Will foundation in conjunction with Positive Education Schools Association (PESA) and aims to highlight the role positive education can play in improving wellbeing and mental health in students.

Through gold-coin donations, it also aims to raise funds for disadvantaged schools to implement positive education programs in the classroom.

The theme of Positive Education Day is “Colour Your Threads for Pos Ed” and while some Upper Hunter schools were a sea of colour at the start of the day, others came to school wearing a blank canvas and returned home dripping in all the shades of the rainbow after participating in fun colour runs.

At St Joseph’s Primary School, Denman, the school community made wellbeing visible by “walking for wellbeing”. Students were invited to meet teachers at the skate park and walk to school reinforcing the role exercise has in improving wellbeing. 

“This day promotes and unites schools in Australia as one voice for wellbeing for all,” said principal Helen Whale.

“Wellbeing is a major focus for the St Joseph’s school community. We believe that by making wellbeing visible our students and whole community can flourish. To do this we follow the SEARCH framework: strengths, emotional management, attention and awareness, relationships, coping, and habits and goals.”

Up the road at St Joseph’s Primary School, Merriwa, every student came to school dressed in bright clothes and even some colourful socks. Staff and students had a wonderful day raising awareness of positive education.

“Colour Your Threads day was just the beginning of wellbeing week for Term 4 at our school,” said Stage 2 Teacher, Rachel Houlahan.

Students participated in many different activities throughout the week including writing gratitude and kindness cards, creating with playdough, painting, computer activities, making stress balls, yoga, writing using shaving cream and, learning some calligraphy skills.

“Students thoroughly enjoyed writing gratitude and kindness cards,” Ms Houlahan said. “They were very thoughtful with the decoration and layout of their cards and most importantly, who they were writing their cards to and for what special reasons.

“We anticipated a great wellbeing week of looking after ourselves and those around us.”

The school community of St Mary’s Primary School, Scone celebrated the day by coming to school dressed in white clothes to participate in a colour fun run. They also enjoyed ice cream sundaes with all money raised going to support PESA and other schools who are implementing positive education. 

“Since beginning our positive education journey almost two years ago, we have seen a wonderful increase in the language the students are using to describe themselves and their feelings,” said principal Kim Wilson.

“We are explicitly teaching the students skills to use when they hit a hurdle in life and struggle with their mental health and wellbeing.

“We are so grateful to Where There's A Will foundation for its support of schools in the Upper Hunter and introducing us to the world of positive education.”

Nearby at St Joseph’s High School, Aberdeen, students were eager to participate, showing their support in the display of pops of colour incorporated into their uniform from funky earrings, hats, socks, ribbons and bracelets.

“Students provided a universal front for positive education, wearing their school uniforms whilst proudly standing for mental health and wellbeing, two things that are necessities to promoting and encouraging the best of our students within the Diocese,” said a St Joseph’s student.

Down the road at St James’ Primary School, Muswellbrook, students certainly went above and beyond with their bold clothing choices – from coloured hair and hair accessories, to rainbow socks and multi-coloured outfits.

“Looking out into the playground on Monday, St James’ was a sea of rainbow, bursting with laughter and spreading joy and positivity,” said primary co-ordinator and lead teacher of positive education, Eloise Hand.

In their classrooms, students participated in a range of activities focused on kindness and character strengths. Some classes designed posters of themselves as a character strength superhero, illustrated an act of kindness or wrote letters of kindness and gratitude to those important in their lives.

“It is important to stop and celebrate all of the wonderful work we are doing with positive education in our school,” Ms Hand said.

St James’ is fortunate to have the support from the Upper Hunter’s organisation Where There’s a Will and is looking forward to celebrating this day every year with many schools across the Upper Hunter, and schools from around the world.”

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Gabrielle Sutherland Image
Gabrielle Sutherland

Gabrielle Sutherland is a Marketing & Communications Officer for the Catholic Schools Office and a regular contributor to and Aurora.