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Collinsville kids growing stronger minds every day

It’s the small town with a big heart, and the next generation of Collinsville is showing that there’s plenty of heartbeat in the small mining town.

Home to just 1,248 people, Collinsville lies about one hour south-west of Bowen and has this year embraced The Resilience Project to help improve the mental health and wellbeing of its youth.

The program, which champions the pillars of gratitude, empathy, and mindfulness, is being rolled out to the town’s four schools – St John Bosco Catholic School, Collinsville State School, Scottville State School and Collinsville State High – in collaboration with the Collinsville Community Association and the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys.

Funded by the Commonwealth and State Disaster Recovery funding arrangements, under the Community Development Program, The Resilience Project is enabling a whole of community approach to wellbeing in Collinsville, starting with school students.

Collinsville State High School teacher Matt Bluck said the program has completely flipped students’ attitudes about life in the small coal mining town.

A lot of the kids out here feel so underprivileged because maybe they don’t have the access to resources and things people in bigger towns and cities have.

Matt Bluck

“They already feel like they’re behind the eight-ball in terms of life and where they want to get to, and they get in that mindset and forget about what they actually do have.

“(But) after doing The Resilience Project, one of the cohorts organised a car wash because they realised they wanted to give back – they realised they’re actually doing ok here.

“They picked a charity, organised all the resources and flyers because they thought, ‘we actually have something good here and we want to give something back to someone else’ after doing the program.”

That shift in thinking is being seen right down to students in prep, as schools deliver the program to kids of all year levels.

The vocabulary is being used throughout each school, with The Resilience Project language and thinking sweeping through the Collinsville Youth Centre and into homes around town.

The Collinsville community will continue to implement the program through 2022, empowering teachers with curriculum-based program resources, activities, and knowledge to help inspire and educate their students about resilience.

Scottville State School principal Naomi Robinson said the common language and explicit teaching of gratitude, empathy and mindfulness has become an integral part of their whole school approach to student learning and wellbeing.

“Teachers present the lessons but also draw back on the content and vocabulary throughout the day,” she said.

The reinforcement of key concepts and mindful thinking processes supports students and staff to focus on the positive, and that in turn supports resilience.

“Discussions with students about empathy and kindness towards others has stimulated some robust and positive conversation about the need to belong and how the students can support each other.”

Former Cowboy and program ambassador Gavin Cooper recently visited all four schools to reinforce the program messages and complete The Resilience Project activities with students.

The visit follows the delivery of a series of engaging information sessions held earlier in the year to explain and showcase the effectiveness of the program to the wider community.

Collinsville Community Association service coordinator Heather Brown said the first six months of the program has had a significant impact on Collinsville as a whole and is laying the foundation to support better mental health and wellbeing outcomes.

“At the Youth Centre kids communicate more, they’re more open, they seem happier, and we push it heavily through the Youth Centre as well,” she said.

“They just seem a lot more polite, and they have a lot of respect for the youth coordinators down there.

“The Resilience Project journals are awesome because students are taking them home and sharing it with their parents.

“So the foundations are in place, but we’re not quite there yet, and that’s my next mission – how do we get more and more parents on board to support the kids with it?”