SMILE to reach more faces
WOOLGOOLGA High School's SMILE program is set to change schools across the region, following a hugely successful event.
More than 130 students and staff from 10 local high schools recently gathered together to hear about SMILE at the Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing Network's latest event.
The award-winning program was created by Woolgoolga High School students and is run solely by the senior student mentors.
"Our dedicated SMILE mentors planned and ran the day, emphasising the importance of student ownership in SMILE," student support officer Alison Fenton said.
"They explained the foundations of SMILE, lead discussions about issues facing young people and shared their SMILE experiences with the interested audience.
"All of the schools expressed a need and a strong desire to also provide support directly to others in their school.
"The impact of this decision will have an ongoing positive influence on their whole school and in the wider community."
SMILE stands for Support, Mentor, Inspire, Listen and Encourage. The program seeks to provide social support for younger students through active listening and promoting positive behaviour.
On the day Associate Professor John Hurley presented his research findings, which emphasised the positive impact SMILE has had within the school.
Former Woolgoolga High School students and founding members of SMILE Lochie Gould and Daniel Bastow spoke about their decision in 2011 to "be there" for younger students who were facing challenges in their school lives.
"It was truly inspiring to see Woolgoolga High students leading a dynamic group of young people keen to make a positive impact on the students in their schools," Prof Hurley said.