In a nutshell
The aim of the project is to focus on the issues that our pupils deal with on a daily basis, that affect their mental health, such as peer pressure and bullying.
What we do
A new bench, which will provide a safe space for pupils who are having stressful times has been installed at Groote Schuur High School. Taking trees that were marked to be felled, cut off, to stumps, seemingly of no benefit, and left to be discarded and we built benches to encourage communication and discussion. The bench and chair both come from the tree - giving life, hope, love, kindness.
The project emphasis is that we as a society can be that pillar, that backrest, the armrests for bullied, depressed and marginalized kids; the homeless and the hungry. The kind heart bench project spreads inclusion, love and kindness - creating a new narrative and cultivating a hope that things can change and will change if we engage and work together.
The Kind Heart Project aims, with the support of Western Cape on Wellness (including other professionals and counsellors) to help to address the issues around peer pressure, bullying, and other mental and health issues. This will also help to foster and build effective programs to:
- Promote the healthy social and emotional development of all children and youth
- Recognize when young people are at risk for or are experiencing mental health problems
- Identify how to intervene early and appropriately when there are problems
- Development of a peer to peer toolkit for students to recognize and deal with these issues
In discussion with Hope House and SADAG, we hope to develop toolkit to address mental wellbeing at educational institutions.
How we do it
The roll-out and launch at various schools, will include engagement with all role-players and potential partners, Principals, SMT, SGB, students, counselors, Grade heads, school nurse, school psychiatrist or psychologist, or school social worker. On discussion and acceptance by the schools:
- The Kindness Bench will be placed in the school grounds, clearly visible, in a space with most access to students.
- The objective is to encourage peer to peer conversations, open discussions which will aid in the overall wellbeing of learners.
- The setting up of the Kind Heart Benches raises awareness around various mental health issues, amongst others, where physical and mental health are interlinked.
- The placement of the Kind Heart Bench is a visual reminder to talk to and engage openly with one another, where you can sit down and talk to someone.
- The Kind Heart Bench offers a safe space, to connect with others, openly, – sharing their stories and ideas.
What we have achieved
The first bench – the yellow chair was placed at Groote Schuur High School in 2014. Then as it gained momentum, some schools became recipients of kindness benches, chairs, gardens, etc. To date, this project has gone into 2 other schools, been seen on national television, published in two magazines and broadcasts done on radio and has impacted many. The kind Heart Bench stories, projects, initiatives from the schools, student bodies, societies, etc. will be collated and placed on schools Comms, Web pages, their Social Media pages, Geo Tagged/ mapped and shared. Then it will be rolled out to linked feeder schools and other educational institutions and public spaces.
What we have learned
The Kindness Bench will be a permanent reminder to students to take a minute out of their day to sit, breathe and talk about their mental health and that of their peers. The Kind Heart Bench offers a safe space to connect with others, openly sharing their stories and ideas.
The hashtag #youmatter will be used as part of the campaign to create awareness around the project.
Other schools which would like to be part of The Kind Heart Bench Project can call Mr Bailey on 071 962 0693 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Ms Du Plessis on 021 674 2165 or email email@example.com