SINGLETON school principals are urging the local community to turn out in force when the Where there’s a Will (WTAW) Foundation hosts an information forum in town next week.
The meeting is scheduled to take place at the Singleton High School multi-purpose hall on Tuesday, October 25, from 6pm.
WTAW is an Upper Hunter-based charity that is taking a whole of community approach to improving mental health and wellbeing and is keen to share their knowledge with the Singleton community.
The foundation is providing funding and support for schools, sporting organisations, parents, workplaces and other key community groups to implement initiatives based on “prevention through education”, using the concepts of Positive Psychology and Positive Education.
More than 450 teachers in the Upper Hunter have started training in Visible Wellbeing, which means that 21 schools are embedding wellbeing initiatives into every facet of school life so that students have the skills to cope with whatever challenges life may throw at them.
Pupils are also being taught how they can use their individual character strengths to thrive and flourish.
The work in schools is being supported by sporting teams and community groups who are also prioritising wellbeing and normalising conversations around mental health.
WTAW is also providing free training in Mental Health First Aid so that as many people as possible can identify the signs and symptoms of mental illness and know how to help those in need, creating a common language.
After starting training in Visible Wellbeing while principal at Muswellbrook South Public School, Jonathan Russell made sure it became part of King Street Public when he made the move to Singleton.
“Knowing the benefit it was having for students and teachers while I was at Muswellbrook, I was very keen for Visible Wellbeing to become part of what we do here at King Street Primary and we were lucky enough to get on board for this year,” he said.
“We’re only at the beginning of the journey but it is already very gratifying to see changes in our school.
“By taking a strengths-based approach to learning and understanding, we’re already seeing improvements in behavioural incidents and the wellbeing of staff and students.
“But, what we’re doing in schools needs to be backed up in homes, when kids are playing sport and when they’re down the street.
“The Upper Hunter is already seeing that happening.
“There’s an amazing community spirit with everyone working together.
“The possibility of being able to replicate that is a really exciting opportunity for Singleton and I strongly encourage as many people as possible to head along to the forum on Tuesday night.”
WTAW executive officer Andrea Burns is excited about the prospect of sharing the journey with residents of Singleton.
“We’ve been contacted on several occasions by community members wanting to be a part of WTAW’s approach to improving wellbeing and mental health which gives us confidence to take the next step,” she said.
“On Tuesday night we’ll be explaining why we have chosen this path, how we have gone about it and what is required from the community to make it work in Singleton.
“There are already pretty strong foundations – Singleton Rugby League has been participating in Group 21’s WTAW round for the past two years and there was a great response when we hosted Mental Health First Aid training in Singleton.
“We’re looking forward to seeing a big crowd on Tuesday night because we really believe Singleton is ready to embrace this change in their community.”