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Bentley Park a Resilience role model

Taking a fall during a rough and tumble game of Edor, a traditional Indigenous chasing-tagging game played in many Cairns schools, isn’t out of the ordinary. It's how students bounce back from that fall that varies.

“Are you ok? Do you need any help?”

Extending a hand to help a fellow student up has become a natural, subconscious expression of empathy and kindness among Bentley Park College’s year 5 students, skills they’ve been displaying more often in day-to-day activities.

“It’s a perfect example that generally, we’re seeing more regulation (in behaviour) and language being used because of The Resilience Project,” explained Rod Jackson, head of school primary.

“I often walk into a class where we review what’s going on, and we’re looking for the teacher delivery, we’re looking for the impact on students, and as part of that we get the opportunity to interview the students.

“We have a standard five questions -what are you learning, what do you have to do to be successful, why are you doing this - those sorts of questions, and then we will have some questions that sit within wellbeing.

“Prior, we would hear of words being used like ‘good’; good teacher, good class, it’s a throwaway line. What I’m hearing now is more depth to those words and The Resilience Project words being used.”

Students were playing the game with former Cowboy and community programs officer Ray Thompson, who visited the school and ran sessions with students to find out more about how they’re understanding and making use of the program.

Bentley Park College is considered a leader among Cairns schools in implementing The Resilience Project, which improves student happiness and mental wellbeing through the pillars of gratitude, empathy and mindfulness.

The Resilience Project is delivered by the North Queensland Cowboys and is funded by Northern Queensland Primary Health Network.

The program was adopted by the school as part of their commitment to student wellbeing and to match behaviours with expectations after noticing that students lacked an ability to bounce back.

As shown in the games of Edor, Bentley Park College is using the pillar of empathy through acts of kindness to teach respect – a behaviour that meets one of the school’s key expectations.

It’s an important investment for the school with many students from other nearby primary schools often coming to Bentley Park College for their secondary schooling.

“What we want (to teach students) is how to be resilient in the moment when we’re challenged,” Rod said.

“We can use that to help kids move on too, so they aren’t harbouring, and that makes them feel better.

“In every school there are a set of rules, and there’s something called Positive Behaviour for Learning (PBL) that you’ll hear where you teach the extra behaviour for an expectation, and we saw an opportunity to connect our expectations with GEM.”

The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys are delivering The Resilience Project in schools across Far North Queensland, including Woree State School, Woree State High School, Balaclava State School, Whitfield State School, Cairns West State School, Bentley Park College (Primary & Secondary), Herberton State School and White Rock State School.