ABC Radio presenter Jacinta Parsons will host a virtual crowdfunding event for Kids First on Tuesday 24th November from 5.30pm – 7.15pm and powered by The Funding Network.
You can register to attend here and a link to view the event will be sent to you the day prior. Please do share this opportunity with your networks. All are welcome to join this exciting evening.
Here’s an outline of the three projects our team is very proud to present on the night:
Mentoring Mums in Seymour
Presenter – Lisa Ferguson, Program Leader, Seymour Family & Children’s Centre
Seymour is located in the Mitchell Shire, around 80 minutes from Melbourne. One in 15 people in Mitchell Shire report high or very high psychological distress, higher than the Victorian state average. This year we opened our first kindergarten in Seymour.
Mentoring Mums is a well-established ‘home grown’ Kids First initiative that has been proven effective in reducing psychological distress, supporting mothers’ mental health and enhancing infant wellbeing (University of Melbourne, 2007). The program pairs volunteers who are experienced mothers with new mums who are experiencing social isolation. The mentor supports ‘mum’ in her parenting role and assists in engaging her with the community, health services and maternal and child health programs.
We know Mentoring Mums works. It’s time to expand its reach!
Funding support would enable us to:
- establish Mentoring Mums in Seymour to contribute a new approach to connecting new mums to their community, and addressing psychological distress
- set up a program base from Kids First’s kindergarten in Seymour. The program has huge potential to engage the community through recruiting and training local mentors, who can in turn forge strong and trusted partnerships with new mums.
Stand Up! for healthy relationships
Presenter – Thomas Gould, Clinical Practitioner
One in seven young people receive requests for sexual content during their online activity. Clearly, the digital age has presented a new set of challenges for young relationships.
Over time in their counselling sessions with young people, our Sexual Abuse Counselling & Prevention Program team saw a trend in the number of clients experiencing sexual exploitation and grooming. In addition, clients expressed confusion around what was ‘normal’ and ‘expected’ in their relationships.
Kids First saw an opportunity to bridge the gap between existing school curriculum that covered sex education and cyber safety separately, and bring these together. Building on our therapeutic expertise and experience in developing primary prevention programs, Stand Up! was born.
Stand Up! has been piloted in nine schools with 400 Year 8 students as a four-session program. Content covers identifying risk scenarios in healthy and unhealthy relationships, developing real life strategies to deal with risks of sexual exploitation and grooming, and knowing who they can turn to if they need support.
With a pilot showing significant interest from schools, positive feedback from teachers, and its effectiveness in connecting with students, we would like to make Stand Up! accessible to more young people.
Funding would enable us to:
- support the delivery of a digital version of Stand Up! so that it can be delivered remotely to more students in more schools
- bring practical, evidence-informed and engaging content to more young people so they can avoid the trauma of sexual exploitation and ‘stand up’ for themselves and their peers.
Sensory kits for trauma recovery
Presenter – Kathy Mendis, Child & Family worker
Kids First’s practitioners have long supported the use of sensory exploration. In exploring the senses, we can uncover ways for children, young people and caregivers to feel safe with one another and to create new communication opportunities to strengthen their attachment.
A purpose built Sensory Room at our Heidelberg Child & Family Centre features weighted items, lighting, music, a projector, kinetic sand, an ‘Egg’ chair and other items that are proven to regulate emotions, create calm or evoke a sense of playful exploration – depending on the sensory preferences of clients.
Seventy-five per cent of sessions in the Sensory Room are with young clients in our Sexual Abuse Counselling and Prevention Program (SACAPP). Research notes the clinical importance of addressing the body to facilitate integration of sensory and emotional awareness in sexual abuse recovery.
When COVID-19 restrictions came into place in March 2020, the Sensory Room was temporarily closed to clients. We didn’t want to lose the momentum we had created with them, so, we assembled a small number of take home sensory kits to send to their homes. And we produced a specialist training session on using the items so that families could continue to use sensory methods through video appointments. The kits included a stress ball, battery operated candle, heat pack and puzzle pens.
Feedback about the kits has been overwhelmingly positive. Not only do the items support sensory exploration that complements therapeutic recovery, but the young clients have also expressed their happiness in receiving a special gift that made them feel valued.
We don’t have funding to give all of our young clients a Sensory kit, so we’re calling on our community to help us with this.
Funding would enable us to:
- Assist our young clients to recover from the trauma of sexual abuse by providing them with high quality sensory kits to complement their therapeutic counselling with our team.