Wellbeing, fun and faith went hand in hand at Holy Spirt Catholic Primary School Carnes Hill’s ‘Spirit of Friendship’ day.
The event was a combined feast day celebration and launch for wellbeing program URSTRONG, which helps students the skills to identify and maintain healthy friendships.
Students in Years 3 to 6 will complete URSTRONG’s Friendology 101, while students from Kindergarten to Year 2 will take part in the junior version of the course.
Year 4 teacher Cathy Abramson said the program led students to define clear boundaries in how they allow themselves to be treated by others, call out ‘mean on purpose’ behaviour and build gratitude, confidence and self-worth.
“The program is not just preparing them to deal with playground problems, it is preparing them for what life will bring,” she said.
“It empowers the children to be able to resolve their own conflicts they have within their friendships, and also to understand that relationships do change over time. They are starting to look within themselves, and learn how to be kind to themselves as well as others.”
It empowers the children to be able to resolve their own conflicts.
Students reflected on what it takes to be a good friend during karaoke, games, fruit salad and friendship bracelet-making and other activities.
Family Educator Silvana Roccisano spoke to students about how the fruits of the Holy Spirit – including patience, kindness and joy – could enhance friendships.
Year 4 students Lily Lay and Stella Jones performed a personalised rap song they had co-written about how to be a good friend.
“We hope the lines in our rap help people,” Lily said. “Like the idea that we don’t need to be jealous or needy of others – just be happy with what you have now.”
Stella said she liked the part of the song that encouraged people not to be ‘robots or plain’, but to embrace their unique qualities rather than go with the crowd.
“If you copy your friend because you think he or she is cool, people who are younger than your age will also learn to copy what others do,” she said.
“Also, if you don’t make good eye contact with your friend and are never listening to her or him, you’re not going to have a very good friendship. If that happens, that’s called a ‘friendship fire’. We want to put out the fires and make people happy.”
Principal Br Nicholas Harsas said the school’s connection to the Holy Spirit added a special dimension to the day.
“It’s a very welcoming school community,” he said. “I hope the children at this school will be able to see that connection between the fruits of the Holy Spirit and what it means to be a good friends – to be forgiving and caring – all of those things that are foundation principles of the URSTRONG program,” he said.
Holy Spirit is one of 13 Catholic primary schools in Sydney’s southwest who have launched URSTRONG following a professional development day about the course attended in April by close to 500 teachers and principals. The initiative is another to give students good tools to build resilience, which acts as a protective factor against mental ill health.
Other Sydney Catholic schools utilising the program’s Friendology 101 lessons including St Michael’s Catholic Primary School Lane Cove, Regina Coeli Catholic Primary School Beverley Hills, McAuley Catholic Primary School Rose Bay, and St Christopher’s Catholic Primary school Panania.