Social Workers in Schools (SWiS) programme is one of the services offered by our Family Service Centres. In the seven schools in which Great Potentials operates, each SWiS worker facilitates programmes to help students have more positive experiences at school.

Allwin is the SWiS Social Worker at Kauri Flats School in Takanini. He finds refering children to counsellors in our Papakura Family Service Centre a good option when one-on-one support is needed. However, facilitating group programmes at the school allows students to support and learn from each other, discovering that they are not alone in dealing with the effects of change, loss and anxiety.

The BRAVE Programme

Kauri Flats School is the first within the Great Potentials Foundation’s SWiS service to offer this programme to its students. It is designed to help them with self-confidence, resilience, and general mental wellness. Allwin takes the students through a five-week programme to learn about coping with stress and anxiety, facing challenges and being tuned into their emotions.

"Anxiety and nervousness are big areas that affect children and their families, especially among the Year 8 students who will be moving to high school end of the year. The new BRAVE programme has recently been introduced to help support this need," says Allwin. 

Topics include breathing techniques, exploring how the body responds to fear, how to keep going even when things are tough and why it’s good to challenge yourself with new experiences. The final session challenges participants to bungy jump off the Auckland Harbour bridge, thanks to the Brave Project, van Asch Bungy Foundation Initiative and AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand.

“The most important thing I learnt from the group is resilience. I learnt how to keep going and not give up. I learnt different breathing techniques for when I feel scared,” says a student at Kauri Flats School.

Seasons for Growth

Grief and loss are other common issues Allwin observes creating a need for social support at the school. A lot of change and transition occurs within families in this community. Children often have to cope with stressful situations such as parents separating, the loss of a family member, moving schools, or family financial stress.

Students use mask emojis to express their feelings at a Seasons For Growth session

Seasons for Growth aims to equip students with strategies to cope with changes and losses in their lives. It’s based on the belief that change, loss and grief are a normal and valuable part of life. Allwin facilitates a group of students using a range of engaging activities that allow them to talk and learn from each other that they are not alone in dealing with problems.

Allwin says both these programmes create a space for children to get involved, learn, and participate in activities that will help them to create a better self. “I know these programmes make a difference when I hear them opening up and sharing with their peers. Common feedback from the students at the end of their time on a programme is that they didn’t want it to end, and they would like the sessions to be longer."