Going virtual, to get going
The Archdiocesan Healthy Relationships team got super creative in the face of the ACT lockdown in August.
The team delivers the home-grown My Body, My Life puberty program to over 1200 primary school students each year. Under the leadership of program coordinator, Cathy Madsen, a team of specially trained, mostly university-aged facilitators, travel anywhere from West Wyalong to Bega and all over the ACT to run programs and small group discussions in classrooms. Some of the themes covered include growing up, physical changes, friendships and social pressures.
Over a two year cycle, 80% of the Archdiocese’s Year 5 and 6 students get to experience the program which many schools regard as an essential part of their Stage 3 curriculum. Despite restrictions on the team being able to attend class rooms physically, teachers were still asking for the program to be delivered.
That’s when the team started looking for solutions and like many people turned to technology. University students Tim Murray, Michael Seselja, Georgia Whitaker and Neve Tually worked with Cathy to develop a 70 minute virtual presentation that was interactive, informative and as fun as possible.
The new program was launched in mid-October, and since then the team has delivered its program virtually to over 300 students across the Archdiocese. Marist students accessed the program from their homes (during the ACT lock down), while for Moruya, Batlow, Adelong, Tumut and Cooma students, the team presented virtually to classrooms via MS Teams.
Justin Bateman from St Mary’s Moruya said that despite the distance, the presenters managed to make a sensitive topic engaging and enjoyable for his students.
Megan Turnbull from McAuley Central School, Tumut, was grateful that the program proceeded despite COVID restrictions. “It is great for the students to learn from presenters other than their teachers”.
Kirsty Beavan, Principal of St Joseph’s Adelong agreed that the students still got a lot out of the virtual presentation. “I thought they did a great job,” she said.
While the team saved time and petrol money and has enjoyed rising to the challenge of virtual program delivery, they are looking forward to getting back into class rooms next year and meeting students face to face again.