Parents and carers: be kind to yourself

This an unpredictable and uncertain time for everyone. With schools closing many parents and carers are wondering how they are going to cope for long periods at home with the children and young people in their care.

It’s the same as what they tell you on planes. You need to put on your own oxygen mask before you can help others. It’s a huge struggle to care for children if we neglect to look after ourselves. While you may think: ‘easier said than done’ – it really does make a difference.

Here are 4 steps you can follow to help you be kind to yourself.

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Creating a soothing new household rhythm in uncertain times

Predictable activities, rhythms and routines make children and young people feel more secure, safer and cared for. With a little bit of planned structure, children are less likely to feel caught unawares. They will know what to expect.

This is especially important for children in out-of-home care who may be more likely to feel that the world is an unsafe place.

In the current COVID-19 situation with no school and big changes to their daily lives, many children, carers and families are struggling to find a new and reassuring rhythm to their days.

Continue reading “Creating a soothing new household rhythm in uncertain times”

Caring for children in out-of-home care during the COVID-19 outbreak

Communities around the world are feeling the impacts of COVID-19. And for anyone who has suffered trauma or lives with anxiety normally, it’s an even more difficult time.

For families with children – especially children who are in out-of-home care – spending weeks at home without any school or other group activities will likely be pretty tough at times.

Over the coming weeks, Berry Street’s Take Two service will be providing resources to help families with children who have experienced developmental trauma to support and manage their wellbeing.

Continue reading “Caring for children in out-of-home care during the COVID-19 outbreak”

An exploration of Positive Education in Australian schools

Interview by Chris Dawson, Senior Trainer of the Berry Street Education Model

Chris Dawson sat down with Marita Hayes-Brown, CEO of the Positive Education Schools Association (PESA), to discuss all things positive education, including exciting developments in this space and four key actions that schools can take to start incorporating a positive education approach.

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How culture helped a child find his voice

By Jen Willis, Communications Consultant, Berry Street – Take Two

Lots of 7-years-olds wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a moth and a butterfly. But Jay can.

Jay is an Aboriginal child going to a local primary school in suburban Melbourne. But unlike the others in his class, he has only just started talking.

Continue reading “How culture helped a child find his voice”

Building Bikes, Building Hope

Sue bikes

Many of the children and young people that Berry Street help aren’t told by their parents to get up and go to school every morning. The abuse, neglect and instability these children deal with daily means that going to school is not on top of their to-do list.

This is why Berry Street runs an independent school (with three campuses) for children who have been disengaged from mainstream education.

The teachers at these schools do their best to get their students involved in school and receive the education and future they deserve. They try to make school-life more engaging for the students in a variety of creative ways, such as a recent bike-building activity.

The students at the Noble Park campus were given the opportunity to build their own bikes through The Happiness Cycle. This is an initiative run by Coca Cola to provide teenagers with bikes to make them more active.

Principal of the Noble Park School, Susan Nilson, says the students responded well to the program.

“It was a really positive experience for the kids. It was a good hands-on activity,” Nilson says. “It enabled the kids to feel valued because they were given the opportunity and responsibility to build something that they get to keep. It gave them a sense of purpose and accomplishment.”

Nilson says the students got really involved and enjoyed the day. Harry*, 16, was excited by the idea of building his own bike.

“The main reason I chose to do the program was to get a bike. That’s pretty cool!” Harry says. Being involved in an activity like this and receiving a bike isn’t something the students would normally experience given their backgrounds, but Harry says getting the bike wasn’t the only positive.

“It was a worthwhile experience. Apart from getting a bike, we got to be around a different variety of people, which was interesting,” Harry says. “It was good because we got to spend time with our friends in a different environment.” IMG_0955

Expert teacher, Travis McMahon, attended the activity and says the students put a lot of effort into building their bikes, as well as acting appropriately, which at times can be a challenge for them.

“The kids were really good. If someone needed a hand with their bike, they’d jump in and help. It was really collaborative,” McMahon says. “These are young people who don’t usually deal well in social settings, but they dealt with being around all the other people really well.”

Like the other students, Harry experienced a difficult upbringing, resulting in him being asked to leave mainstream education. He’s been attending the Berry Street School for a year now and says he’s happy to be there.

“I’ve made a lot of friends here, which is good, and I can get an education. That’s very important to me.”

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of students.

Post written by: Grace Kelly, Berry Street Media Intern

ACWA 2014

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Berry Street are coming to the ACWA Conference in Sydney from August 18 to 20 and are delighted to be the Health and Wellbeing Sponsor.

We understand how important personal resilience and looking after ourselves is in order to be able to sustain ourselves in our challenging roles.

We even have a health and wellbeing initiative for ourselves at the moment, and this week’s challenge is eating 5 serves of vegetables and 2 pieces of fruit every day. Why don’t you set yourselves this challenge too?H&WB challenge

Next week while the conference is on, our challenge is to include 30 minutes exercise per day – visit our table at ACWA and let our Events & Projects Officer, Prue, explain to you the rest of the challenge. Prue can also show you the great practice resources and publications we have developed, most of which are able to be downloaded for free!

Come and listen to our great staff members who are on the speaking program:

  • Anita Pell, a fantastic advocate for foster carers
  • Trish McCluskey, who with a strong evidence base will argue passionately regarding the importance of keeping siblings together in case, and
  • Andrew McClausland, who is a thought leader in the role of carers in children’s education.

And, if you are at the conference and see our Director Craig Cowie, stop and say hi – and let him know that you read this on our blog!

Post written by: Pam Miranda, Senior Manager Knowledge Development, Berry Street Childhood Institute