It was really exciting to represent Quirky Kid at the Positive Schools 2016 Mental Health and Wellbeing Conference in Singapore last month. The Conference aims to provide solution focused ideas and strategies for nurturing wellbeing, positive mental health and a love of learning and life in young people.
There were several presentations over the two days and some hands-on workshops like an inspiring presentation by Dr David Bennett who spoke about nurturing resilience and wellbeing in children. He explored some links between brain science, development and behaviour, and the implications for wellbeing. Next, a particularly impactful presentation was by Thea O’Conner, who spoke about reshaping body image. Thea explained that adults’ own negative feelings about their own body image (and the widespread population ideals about body image) can heavily influence children’s way of thinking. This drew attention to the importance of changing societies views of this topic to ensure better outcomes for our children.
The end of Day One brought an insightful presentation by Professor Donna Cross about bullying prevention. Donna shared some of her own research on successful ways to reduce bullying behaviour experienced by children. She explained her thoughts on the fact that we often focus on individual intervention for children involved in bullying situations, and suggested that we should instead be focusing on changing the culture in schools to make bullying an unacceptable action by everyone’s standards. It seems that this strategy could have the most positive outcome overall. The positive energy, and view for new ways of tackling different problems, was evident at the end of the first day, and the anticipation for Day Two was felt.
Day Two started off with a fun and uplifting presentation by Justin Robinson from Geelong Grammar School, who spoke about the importance of building positive relationships with school-aged children. Justin suggested that the simple act of a teacher going to the effort of remembering each child’s name and something specific about them, and having real a conversation with them, can make a massive difference to that child’s experience at school. This was followed by Janet Etty-Leal who explained why mindfulness can be a really great addition to school routines. Giving children the opportunity to practice mindfulness in schools has been shown to not only have a positive effect on the children’s wellbeing but has also tackled some issues such as disruptive behaviour and teachers having to discipline children for “bad behaviour”.
The conference was a great event for Quirky Kid to be involved in and was very much in line with our vision for positive futures. It was exciting to bring The Best of Friends program to more and more schools, and we can’t wait for the next conference opportunity!
You can find information on the conference and all of the speakers here.
Last week, I was lucky enough to get a ticket to ‘Wired for Wonder‘, an annual 2-day event hosted by Commonwealth Bank. ‘Wired For Wonder’ features an impressive line-up of speakers and workshops in the areas of technology, life, business, arts and science. It aims to encourage collaboration, innovation, inspiration and self-discovery. There were also coffee stands. Lots of coffee stands.
So, there I was, sitting spellbound for the entire 10 hours, listening to incredible speakers talking about inspiring ideas, overcoming adversity, polarity of ideas, technology, parenting, innovation and creativity. We were treated to music by Ben Lee and LIOR, opera and comedy. We participated in “DIVE DEEP” workshops where we met in small intimate groups and focused our learning. We practised brainstorming and prototyping and even badge-making.
I laughed and cried (mostly tears of laughter) during Dylan Alcott’s talk as he pulled gold medal after gold medal out of the pockets of his wheelchair. Born with a tumour wrapped around his spinal cord, the doctors set to work and removed the tumour. The operation, however, left him a paraplegic and wheelchair-bound for the rest of his life. He spoke of being the best version of himself, of not feeling sorry for himself and of making the most of what he could with the cards he was dealt. His positive attitude and ability to look at things from a positive angle was ultimately what pushed him to succeed (and even go crowdsurfing in his wheelchair at festivals).
In psychology, we often use techniques that focus on a person’s thoughts to help them change. By changing the way one thinks, we start to change how we feel (from anxious or sad to calmer and happier) and ultimately this leads to a change in the way we behave. I saw in Dylan Alcott’s talk the sheer power of thought and will. By believing he could do it, he felt confident and inspired to achieve and he put that into action.
Another highlight for me was the DEEP DIVE session I attended during lunchtime with Fiona Triaca and Sharon Cody. The concept of their workshop was that instead of thinking in order to build, we should build in order to think. Using my hands and creating prototypes and building my ideas (using paper cups, boxes, sticky tape and blue tac) helped to harness my imagination and it got my “creative juices” flowing in a way that writing down ideas on a piece of paper would not have inspired.
It is hard to condense 10 hours of ideas into a few paragraphs. I suppose that for me, the event was about exploring polar opposites, creating cognitive disinhibition and provoking thought, then using these ideas in the context of my own personal and professional world. I think I could sum it up with the tagline embroidered onto the lanyard chain – “I’m weird, I’m wired, I’m wonderful”.
Every now and then, we can all benefit from a little bit of inspiration.
A sincere thank you to iAccelerate at the University of Wollongong and Commonwealth Bank for making it possible. Tickets were kindly provided free of charge by these organisations.
At last! Our new ‘Tell Me A Story” cards are back and better than ever. For those who have never experienced the joy of this popular resource in the past, the ‘Tell Me a Story’ cards are a useful tool for parents and professionals working with young people to facilitate communication, highlight strengths and to reinforce a sense of pride.
To date, the TMAS cards have been tried and tested by over 1200 people worldwide. Developed in the clinical setting for over 10 years, these cards have been gracefully illustrated to engage and invite both children and adults to recall and retell their own memorable moments of extremity, such as ‘Luckiest!’ ‘Loneliest!’ and ‘Bravest!’
The topics of these cards have been chosen for their ability to engage listeners of all ages. The TMAS cards are a useful tool for parents and professionals working with young people to facilitate communication, highlight strengths, give praise and boost self-esteem.
The new edition of these cards features a fresh new box for safe keeping and extra special printing touches throughout.
Our very own Kimberley O’Brien and Leonardo Rocker will shortly be stepping on stage to work their magic for the grand final of the fifth annual iAccelerate Pitch, where entrepreneurs get a chance to polish and pitch their business idea to a panel of experts.
Quirky Kid is one of the startups that were selected for the Pitch event, based on the strength of our business idea and growth potential. The other finalists include: Digital Homebrew, GeoInteractive, Health Ready, ScrubUp, Stabilco
Along with the other finalists, we have had our pitch whipped into shape with formal training from a professional pitch trainer, ongoing feedback and ultimately from the panel of experts that will sit on the judging panel at the final. We are hoping to be chosen for any of the awards up for grabs which include; Panel Winner, Panel Runner Up, Audience Winner, Audience Runner Up and Most Improved Pitch.
The presentations start at 3:00 today at the iAccelerate building.
Wish us luck everyone!
Quirky Kid took the panel runner-up – Check out some great images here: http://www.iaccelerate.com.au/events/gallery/719-iaccelerate-pitch-grand-final-2016-album.html
At long last! Our new and improved Face It! Cards have arrived at QK headquarters ready to inspire and delight children and adults once again. We felt it was time to refresh the look of these much loved hand-drawn expression cards designed to engage young people from diverse social and cultural backgrounds as well as those on the Autism spectrum or with other special needs.
The new edition features a fresh, crisp new box for storage and transport and special printing embellishments throughout. We love it.
These cards have been widely used across Australia and beyond to help families resolve conflict and classmates explore social scenarios or ethical dilemmas. Whether in the classroom, clinic or at home, the Face It! Cards have the capacity to overcome barriers and invite conversation about expressions and feelings no matter what age or environment.
This resource has such a diverse range of uses making it not only popular as a resource for the clinic and classroom setting, but a beautiful gift for any young person looking to improve their ability to connect with people through the understanding of expressions and body language.
The Face It Cards have sold over 1500 copies and is used by organisations worldwide. Here’s a lovely review the cards received recently by our friends at the University of Arkansas.
Have a closer look at the new Face It! cards here. You can use the special 2nd edition discount code: happyFace. Buy now below.