Changing young lives for the better

November 1, 2023 BY

LifeChanger program getting results at Grant High School

Low self-esteem, self-worth issues, and a sense of isolation. These are the issues Grant High School staff identified as on the rise in their school population and that is why they engaged with the LifeChanger program, targeting their Year 8 students.

This year marked the third time the school had implemented the mental health and wellbeing program and Health & Physical Education/Homegroup Coordinator Ameia Redman, who headed up the program, said the results have been inspiring.

“Our decision to implement this program was driven by the alarming statistics and challenges faced by many of our young people and their families,” Miss Redman said. “Nationally, a staggering 74% of young individuals have reported a decline in their mental health since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. These challenges often lead to adverse outcomes, including physical and mental illnesses, diminished well-being, and, most alarmingly, youth suicide.

“The introduction of the LifeChanger program was a proactive step to address some of these issues. The program’s primary goal is to provide early intervention strategies that foster self-esteem, self-awareness, positive self-identity, and resilience among our students.”

LifeChanger is a proactive mental health and well-being program, aimed at empowering young individuals to lead thriving and resilient lives. This year’s program was led by dedicated facilitators, Caitlin, Noah, and Jack who travelled from Adelaide, and Victoria each fortnight.

The program targets Year 8 students because this is a stage in their lives marked by significant changes—physically, socially, and mentally.

“It is during this crucial period that we are hoping to proactively promote positive wellbeing.,” Miss Redman said.

And the results do speak for themselves with an overwhelmingly positive response from students (see breakout box), with staff also benefiting from their role in the program.

“From a staff perspective, they have thoroughly enjoyed assuming the role of ‘mentors’ in the workshops rather than being the traditional ‘teacher’,” Miss Redman said. “Teachers have expressed their appreciation or the opportunity to sit down with students and engage in open, round-table discussions. This experience has allowed them to connect with their students on a deeper, more personal level, providing a platform for conversations that might not find time in a regular classroom setting or may not typically arise.

“… these challenges often lead to adverse outcomes, including physical and mental illnesses, diminished well-being, and, most alarmingly, youth suicide…” Amelia Redman (Grant HIgh School teacher)

“… providing a platform for conversations that might not find time in a regular classroom setting or may not typically arise…” Amelia Redman (Grant HIgh School teacher)

“In addition to enhancing relationships with students, teachers have also shared their own journeys, serving as great models for our students. This willingness to be open and transparent about their own experiences has been invaluable.”

The Grant High School program teams with OneFortyOne as its community partner as students and community members work through six face-to-face workshops.

The community mentors are trained prior to the start of the program to enhance their leadership a and mentoring skills and then it is all about the mentors building a rapport and offer support to the young people during workshops.

“This mentorship ensures that our students have a support network, empowering them to achieve their best possible outcomes in life,” Miss Redman said.

The LifeChanger journey begins with students exploring their inner hero, delving into LifeChanger’s five pillars of Health, Skills, Self, Purpose, and Tribe. In the first workshop, ‘Health,’ students gain insights into the significance of movement, nutrition, recovery, and meditation in enhancing positive well-being and their mental health. The ‘Skills’ workshop, the second in the program, delves into vital life skills, including goal setting, problem-solving, resilience, and gratitude.

The ‘Self’ workshop encourages participants to delve into their emotions and understand how they are projected to the world, fostering selfawareness and equipping them with practical strategies to regulate their emotions. In the ‘Purpose’ workshop, students are prompted to reflect on their passions, hobbies, and interests. This workshop instils the understanding that life is fraught with challenges, and it encourages students to develop the ability to acknowledge, accept, and overcome these challenges.

The program culminates in the ‘Tribe’ workshop, which serves as a celebration of the students’ journey with the LifeChanger program. This workshop emphasises that ‘Tribe’ extends beyond immediate family and encompasses the broader community.

This year’s Tribe workshop was hosted at Wulanda Recreation and Convention Centre, including a basketball session led by Pioneers Women’s Head Coach Matt Sutton.

“We would like to express our gratitude to OneFortyOne, without their support, this program would not have been possible,” Miss Redman said. “It’s our vision that LifeChanger will become an integral component of our Homegroup curriculum, with the continued support of OneFortyOne. The feedback from OneFortyOne has been overwhelmingly positive, and they enjoy the experience of mentoring and establishing connections with our students.”

The future of the program will be watched from afar by Miss Redman, though, who after five years at the school is returning to Adelaide.

“I’ve found immense satisfaction in my work and have experienced considerable professional and personal growth,” Miss Redman said. “I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone contemplating a career in education to consider a teaching experience in a regional setting; it’s been a truly enjoyable journey. I’ll carry with me wonderful memories from my time at Grant High School and in Mount Gambier, and hope that I have left a lasting impact on our young people.”