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Kindness more than just a show for students

As the desks were cleared from the front of the room, the stage was set for class 5A and 5B at St Francis School Ayr to act out scenes of resilience – but for students, it’s more than just a show.

Having learned about the impact of empathy and kindness on themselves and others as part of The Resilience Project, delivered with the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys, the students were ready to put words into action.

In groups of three, and with a helping hand from former Cowboy and ambassador Gavin Cooper, students imagined an everyday scene where kindness could be implemented before acting them out for the class to see.

And while it’s one thing to be able to perform the concepts in front of the class, school principal Amanda Jones said the learnings of The Resilience Project are starting to be acted out every day, without prompts.

“It gives them that better understanding that when we talk to them about being resilient about something, what does resilience actually look like,” she said.

“I also think it’s helping them look at the other person and what they might be going through, and that’s your empathy.

“That’s giving them a chance to think about how others feel as well and not just being so focused on themselves, which has worked in really well with our circle time program that we use in classrooms as a way of discussing different concepts and things that happen.”

The Resilience Project activities are being delivered to grade 5 students at the school with enthusiastic teachers using an online learning hub to guide the program and help put learnings into practice.

The program focuses on four pillars – gratitude, empathy, mindfulness and emotional literacy – and empowers teachers with curriculum-based program resources, activities and knowledge to help inspire and educate their students.

Working daily from their resilience journals, St Francis students are learning about the benefits of the four pillars to help build stronger relationships and give them better learning outcomes through being resilient in class.

Since the program was rolled out, the school has seen improvements in friendships, community connection and learning outcomes.

“When you don’t do so well on a test or a lesson doesn’t go the way you would’ve liked, we know how to be resilient in those situations and I think it will take time for that to start transferring over further,” Amanda said.

“Even though the curriculum is so packed, the teachers see the benefit in the program, and it does fit into other areas (of learning).

“It’s just a matter of making that a priority because it’s what the kids need.”

Overall, the Cowboys are partnering with 42 schools across North and Far North Queensland for The Resilience Project in 2021, providing support, resources and ambassador visits to complement the program curriculum.

School visits from Cowboys players reinforce the importance of what students are learning, with new perspectives a welcome inclusion to the curriculum.

“It’s great having them there because the minute you say Cowboys to the kids, it’s like ‘Woo-hoo, so exciting’,” Amanda said.

“Gavin’s been down a couple of times now, so the kids really like that and (seeing) someone who has different stories but is saying the same things backs up what the teachers said.

“That really helps to give the kids that boost and bit of excitement.”

The support of the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys in implementing the program is made possible by funding from the Queensland Government.

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North Queensland Cowboys respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.