Bringing Ulladulla back together
Post-bushfires, the COVID-19 pandemic took root in Australia. Schools shuttered, activities were cancelled and shops closed. Britt, an Ulladulla local, and Save the Children’s Journey of Hope facilitator, saw the uncertainty take hold in the children too. “There was so much anxiety and fear. Even something like seeing the plastic partitions go up at the shops, or being told you cannot be physically close to your friends, was so difficult for children at a time when they’re trying to heal.”
Britt facilitates the weekly one-hour program at Ulladulla Public School. Photo: Adam Williamson / Save the Children
It was then that Save the Children started delivering the Journey of Hope program at Ulladulla Public School. The program helps young people build resilience and process their worries after a disaster. “When children experience a traumatic event so many emotions come into play that they don’t necessarily have the capacity to understand,” says Britt. “Journey of Hope comes in to help the children understand their emotions, normalize these emotions, and see that they’re not the only ones who are experiencing what they’re experiencing. We help them to then verbalize how to appropriately express what they’re going through. And we help them to identify positive coping strategies.”
Children engage in creative age-appropriate activities across topics such as bullying, self-esteem, building safety, fear and sadness. Photo: Adam Williamson / Save the Children
Happier and more confident children
The importance of the program to the children and school community can’t be underestimated, says Britt. Teachers and parents alike have seen tangible change in children’s behavior and their learning.
This is because Journey of Hope uses a variety of experiential and reflective learning activities, including cooperative play, discussion and creative arts, to support the children.