Schools have embraced Anglicare’s Taz Kids program, saying it delivers excellent support to students who have a family member with a mental illness.
Anglicare offers the eight-week club program to schools state-wide, and also runs camps during school holidays.
In the past year, Anglicare conducted Taz Kids clubs in 12 primary schools and 5 high schools.
“There was growth in all regions this year, with schools asking for repeat clubs and others phoning to ask to be put on the waiting list,” said Cassandra Ogden, state coordinator of Taz Kids. “Schools are seeing the benefits for their students, and the word is spreading. Schools tell us that there have been positive changes in the children’s attitudes at school and in their ability to cope with what’s happening at home”.
The principal of Spreyton Primary School, Toni Douglas said the Taz Kids program had worked “extremely well” for the students at her school. “The children absolutely loved it and talked about it for a long time afterwards,” she said.
“We worked hard to structure the groups well and had a really nice space with plenty of room for games and activities like cooking, art and craft,” said Toni. “Over the period of the time that they were working together, relationships formed within the group, self-esteem grew, and children’s mental health benefitted from it. We saw them engage better in classroom work and be generally more happy and positive around the school,” she said.
Katrina Watts, a social worker in the north west, said she highly recommended the Taz Kids program to schools. “I first made contact with Anglicare because there were a number of kids who had parents or other significant people in their immediate family with mental health issues,” she said. “These young people had a lot of questions and I believed it would be useful to bring in specialist knowledge to the school”.
Katrina said the Anglicare program had “filled a big hole” for these students. “It was important for each of them to realise that they were not the only one going through this, and that there were other kids they could talk to,” she said. “They had their questions answered, they learned things, and they also had a lot of fun”.
“It was wonderful to be able to give these students that forum. I can’t speak highly enough of it,” said Katrina. “I also learned a lot about mental health by attending Taz Kids and that knowledge continues to be useful in my role”.
Cassandra said students benefitted from the peer support they found at Taz Kids. “The students who participate talk about things with each other that other young people in their circle may not understand,” she said. “They give each other support when things are a bit tough at home, and they learn that what’s happening is not their fault,” she said. “Many of the students tell us that after attending Taz Kids, they had their first ever conversation with a parent about the mental health issues affecting Mum or Dad”.
“Most of all, the students say that the Taz Kids sessions are exciting and fun,” said Cassandra. “The young people just love them and eagerly come along each week to participate”.