Better buddies band together for a teddy bear picnic

CHILDREN’S laughter echoed across the grounds of Fahan School recently as more than 300 students gathered to celebrate National Buddy Day with a special teddy bear picnic.

The celebrations were held in support of The Alannah and Madeline Foundation’s ‘Better Buddies Framework’ that aims to create friendly and caring school communities, reduce bullying and promote positive relationships.

Fahan School principal Tony Freeman said the school was very proud of its connection to the Better Buddies program.

“We have combined our buddy program, ‘Big Sister, Little Sister’, seamlessly with Better Buddies,” he said.

“Our program proudly refers to Alannah Mikac’s own words, ‘I am special because I care for others’, which were written for her little sister Madeline to inspire our students.”

Fahan School undertook a number of activities to celebrate the special occasion, including a picnic style lunch with the opportunity for younger students to share a storybook of their choosing, accompanied by their favourite toy.

Fahan School ICT coordinator and senior teacher Jane MacRossum said the program was effective in reducing bullying and anxiety, especially for “the little ones.”

“It really helps to increase their confidence, as they spend time among their big sisters and start to get to know each other,” she said.

“The younger students actually get to spend time with the older ones, which helps to rid the image of them as older, scary six foot girls.

“Now it’s ‘she’s my big sister’, which is a really lovely.”

Ms MacRossum said a buddy event was run each term, organised by the junior school chair with the help of her committee members.

“Each term we have a different theme – last term was Easter, next term will be a treasure hunt and then a Christmas event,” she said.

“It’s so nice and simple, but really effective.”

The Alannah and Madeline Foundation chief executive officer Dr Judith Slocombe said thanks to the support of principal partner NAB, the foundation was well on the way toward implementing the Better Buddies Framework across Australia.

“Bullying is a major societal issue in Australia and 27 per cent of young people report they are bullied every two weeks or more,” she said.

“Relationship building is key to reducing bullying and this program enables students to forge new friendships that might otherwise not have been developed, therefore creating a more supportive and inclusive environment.”

For more information about the Better Buddies framework, visit www.betterbuddies.org.au

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