The Helmsman Project team has been working on a human-centred design project in collaboration with high school partners to help us test and evaluate potential new program offerings. After conducting extensive research with teachers and principals at various schools across NSW, our team was able to identify some key challenges schools face in supporting young people.
All student outcomes are dependent on them meeting a certain threshold of wellbeing. But the vast majority of teacher/school time and resources go into addressing the curriculum. Most schools and teachers find that despite the requirement to address student wellbeing, they are ill-equipped in terms of time and resources to do so. This leaves wellbeing 'outsourced' to third party providers and divided between overloaded career, transition or wellbeing coordinators who treat individuals on a case by case basis.
To help address this identified need we created a series of in-school workshops to help young people develop hope, self-regulation and resilience to achieve their potential and support their wellbeing. These workshops were piloted with a group of students from St Agnes Catholic High School, facilitated by our Head Coach Matt Robinson and our Head of Programs Charmaine O’Brien.
The first session was focused on fun, team-based challenges and activities designed to teach students about the importance of communication and multiple perspectives when tackling problem solving and team challenges. Students thoroughly enjoyed this workshop with feedback reported such as “Participating in this workshop has allowed me to observe how some of my classmates work in groups under stressful situations…”
The second workshop dove further into the importance of communication by helping the students identify what quality communication looks like, why it is important for healthy relationships and build understanding of how to communicate effectively. Feedback from this workshop included “it showed me how people can communicate not just with words” and “it helped me enhance my social skills, and the ability to communicate with others better”.
The third workshop activity was the 'marshmallow challenge' designed to encourage resilience and synergy in the students and reinforce the importance of teamwork. Many students also enjoyed this workshop with one student reporting “Participating in this workshop has made me more open to the strengths and weaknesses of my fellow classmates. It has also opened me up to the different roles I could play in a team.”
We also received positive feedback from the teachers from St Agnes who assisted in facilitation of the workshops. One teacher found that “The activities were very engaging and gave proof that what [the students] were discussing and writing about applied to them and could be used to make changes.” Another reflected that “The activities were relevant, purposeful and students could draw a link to the content.”
We look forward to utliising these observations and other learning experiences from this pilot to continue to evaluate and refine a program that will positively impact the lives of young people at a scalable and sustainable level.