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Journey of Hope  

Helping children cope, build resilience and strengthen relationships.

Start your journey now

Journey of Hope is a free program helping young people build resilience and develop new ways to cope with worry and anxiety in uncertain times. The program is suitable for children aged 4 to 18. There’s also a workshop to help parents and caregivers look after themselves, so they can provide better support for the children in their care.

We are currently offering free facilitated sessions for schools in communities affected by the 2019/20 bushfires. In situations where face-to-face engagement is not possible, we offer the option of delivering key modules of the program online.

The ongoing impact disaster can have on children 

In any crisis, children are always the most vulnerable. More than half of those affected by emergencies are children, and crises can severely affect both their physical safety and emotional wellbeing.

Research confirms that without early intervention, children experiencing trauma may suffer negative effects that impact educational and functional outcomes later in life.1 Studies2 show that primary school children in bushfire affected areas demonstrated reduced academic progress compared with their peers two to four years after the event. Significant delays in progress in reading and numeracy have been observed in children who started school in the year prior to a moderate to major bushfire.

Building resilience among children after disaster 

Save the Children works to ensure all children and young people are supported – from the immediate response to a crisis and throughout recovery. 

In the first hours after children are evacuated from their homes and communities, we are there to keep them safe and supported through our Child-Friendly Spaces in evacuation and relief centres. Then as relief centres close, we work with local authorities to mobilise outreach psychosocial support in communities that have been hardest hit. 

Once the immediate emergency has passed, we continue to work with families and schools to ensure the most heavily impacted children receive the support they need to process what they’ve experienced and mitigate the long-term impacts. 

We do this through our Journey of Hope in-school recovery model. Journey of Hope helps children and caregivers cope with traumatic events, develop their natural resilience and strengthen their social support networks.

Journey of Hope is free for eligible schools affected by the 2019-20 bushfires   

Thanks to generous donations by international supporters, investment from Save the Children international member organisations and domestic fundraising, Save the Children is able to offer Journey of Hope,  free of charge to an initial number of primary and secondary schools in communities affected by the devastating 2019-20 bushfires.

The Journey of Hope program is tailored for four age groups: 

  • Early Years into Lower Primary – children aged 4-7

  • Middle Primary – children aged 8-10

  • Late Primary to Early High School – young people aged 11-13

  • Mid to late High School – young people aged 14-18

I learned a bit more about my feelings. That if or when I want to talk about my feelings, I can talk about them – it still makes me feel better now.

Secondary student, Journey of Hope participant, Canterbury, NZ

An evidence-based program with proven results 

Journey of Hope was first implemented after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and developed with children and educators. The program has since been delivered to more than 85,000 children in numerous countries, including an adaptation in New Zealand following the Christchurch earthquake.

Through rigorous evaluation, including by the International Institute for Children’s Rights and Development, Journey of Hope has been shown to improve student social and emotional well-being, as well as knowledge and skills3, by: 

  • Teaching children to recognise and manage their emotions, which builds confidence, self-esteem, and ‘I believe I can’ attitudes. 
  • Developing positive peer relationships, which help children experience a collaborative environment based on respect and understanding. 
  • Reducing disruptive behaviours, which supports more concentrated learning in class.

The program design 

Based in social cognitive theory4, Journey of Hope teaches children social and emotional skill building to promote self-efficacy, problem solving and positive coping so they may have the capacity to overcome current and future trauma5

The program is implemented by trained facilitators in small groups of up to ten students. Multiple student groups can be supported in the one school or region. Each student group works with the same facilitators over the duration of the program, with curriculum organised into eight one-hour sessions that can be implemented within a school term. For the older age groups, the program will be adapted into fewer sessions to enable easy integration into the existing curricula.

The program’s key learning objectives support children to: 

  • understand and normalise emotions associated with traumatic stress

  • develop positive coping strategies to deal with these emotions

  • build on their innate strengths and of their families, schools and communities to further develop positive coping mechanisms

  • instil a sense of hope, empowering them to feel more in control over stressors. 

The program uses experiential and reflective learning activities, including cooperative play, discussion and creative arts, to help children recognise and process common emotions, identify stressors and triggers, and build capacity to deal with those emotions6.  

I have heard lots of positive feedback and know that it will have a continuing benefit for our students.

Jenny Fraser, Deputy Principal, Kaiapoi Borough School, NZ

Supporting  teachers, parents and caregivers 

When we enter a school or early education setting, our facilitators offer a workshop for teachers and parents, so they understand the program and its objectives, have an opportunity to ask questions, and feel equipped to support their children as they progress through the eight-week curriculum.

We aim to complement existing social-emotional supports being offered in schools. By working directly with students, the model reduces pressure on educators to deliver specialist content in an already crowded curriculum. By delivering in group settings, the program encourages students to build positive peer relationships and learn how to support the coping skills of one another and allows facilitators to identify those children who may benefit from further support, such as 1:1 counselling.

Flexible delivery 

Depending on the timetable of each school, Journey of Hope sessions can be provided once a week for eight consecutive weeks, twice a week for four consecutive weeks or otherwise by arrangement. Program facilitators are equipped to respond to a diverse range of coping levels to ensure those who struggle can learn from those coping better.

In this way, Journey of Hope is able to accommodate the educational and psychosocial needs of students returning to school after prolonged absences as a result of disasters and align with different school and community visions for local recovery. 

Since doing Journey of Hope, my two girls have finally moved back into their own beds after sleeping with me for two years since the earthquakes started.

Mother, Freeville Primary, Canterbury, NZ

To find out if Journey of Hope could be right for your school, please email

Images: Save the Children

1. Goodman, Gail et al. “Trauma and Long-term Memory for Childhood Events: Impact Matters”. Society for Research in Child Development. Vol 13 (1) 2019.
2. Gibbs, Lisa, et al. "Delayed Disaster Impacts on Academic Performance of Primary School Children". Child Development 90.4 (2019)
3. Blanchet-Cohen & Nelems, “Journey of Hope (JoH) Curriculum: Building Children’s and Communities’ Resilience”. International Institute for Child Rights and Development (2009)
4 & 5. Bandura. “Health promotion from the perspective of social cognitive theory”. Psychology and Health. (1998)
6. Malekoff. “Transforming trauma and empowering children and adolescents in the aftermath of a disaster through group work.” Social Work with Groups (2008). Salloum et al. “Grief and trauma group therapy for children after Hurricane Katrina”. SocialWork with Groups. (2009)

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