fbpx

Programs for Preadolescents

Cool Connections in School (9-12 years)

Cool Connections is a well-being program for students in Years 5 and 6 that helps participants develop their personal strengths and better manage their mental health.

The objective of each program is to increase resilience, working with participants to build their confidence, develop their social skills and to create a sense of connectedness with others at school and in the community.

There are two Cool Connections programs currently offered, each with a unique format:

Cool Connections in School

  • 8 sessions of 90 minutes duration
  • 10-12 participants
  • Hosted at school, during regular school hours
  • Led by 2 trained and experienced facilitators, with a support teacher present
  • Includes an engaging mix of creative projects and group discussion
  • Weekly topics include personal identity, connection, safe places and people, problem solving and gratitude
  • Running in Central Coast schools since 2016

Cool Connections Online

  • 8 online sessions of one-hour duration
  • 5-6 participants
  • Hosted via secure Zoom session, time and location flexible
  • Led by 2 trained and experienced facilitators, with full consent from teachers and caregivers
  • Includes an engaging mix of creative projects, group discussion and online educational tools
  • Weekly topics include personal identity, connection, safe places and people, problem solving and gratitude
  • Developed and first delivered while schools were closed due to COVID-19

Y-Connections (11-14 years)

Y-Connections has been developed for young people in years 7 and 8 and is designed to build self-esteem and resilience through a range of creative, hands-on activities and workshop content that introduces essential life management skills.

 Program format for Y-Connections is as follows: 

  • 8 sessions of 90 minutes duration
  • 8-10 participants
  • Hosted at school, during regular school hours
  • Led by 2 trained and experienced facilitators, with a support teacher present
  • Includes an engaging mix of creative projects and group discussion
  • Weekly topics include personal identity, problem solving, relationships and emotions
  • Running in Central Coast schools since 2019

The program is applicable to all students but can be of particular benefit to those who experience issues such as social withdrawal, anxiety, difficulties with peer relationships, low school attendance, isolation, identity issues or disengagement.

 Built around coaching, emotional intelligence and positive psychology frameworks, the aim of Y-Connections is to create a supportive space where ideas and stories can be shared, solutions-focused problem-solving skills are developed and new ways to view situations are discussed using a growth mindset to help build resilience.
At the end of the program, participants have gained a stronger sense of self as well as some effective tools and coping strategies to manage life’s challenges.

Thank you to our major program supporter:

For further information on any of our programs please contact Sue via email: sue@irisfoundation.org.au

Thank you to our supporters:

Northlakes Toukley Rotary

Wyong Rugby League Club supports Iris Foundation
Iris Foundation is a 2019 Westpac Community Grant recipient

Benefits of Connections programs

Participants should emerge from Connections programs better able to: 

  • Solve interpersonal problems effectively
  • Relax and reflect in healthy ways (eg meditation, journaling, drawing)
  • Establish and understand their own personal values and identity
  • Identify safe people who support them
  • Recognise their own strengths and positive traits and those of other people
  • Regulate strong emotions

 These benefits may be indirectly shared with each participant’s family members, peers and teachers.

 Connections programs are evaluated at their conclusion, with ongoing refinements made based on feedback from schools and  facilitators. Teachers consistently report strong improvements in students’ self-esteem, confidence and classroom behaviour.

Why early intervention is vital

It is estimated that 1 in 7 Australian children experience mental health issues and approximately 50 per cent of all serious mental health issues begin around the age of 14. Preadolescence – from ages 9 to 14 – is a time of transition and change. Preadolescent children are maturing physically, emotionally and socially, whilst also taking on greater responsibility at school and at home. It is a vital stage in the formation of identity, values and attitudes towards the self and other people. Mental health support provided at this time can prevent young people falling into crisis or developing more complex issues later in life.

Our programs were developed in consultation with psychologists, art therapists and mental health professionals. The emphasis on creative expression reflects recent mental health research on the most effective ways to foster hope and self-confidence in young people. Studies suggest that engaging in art-based activities can help young people develop a sense of belonging and to cope with difficult feelings.

Connections programs introduce strategies to build resilience and open support pathways for children who need ongoing assistance.

We would like to thank our major supporters: