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Little Sparkz provides a bright light for children
December 7, 2020
A three-year partnership with Kingston City Council has resulted in many youngsters become school-ready and more attuned to the school routine after years of being traumatised by family violence.
Little Sparkz to Bright Minds is an early intervention program for children aged between four and nine..
Developed by Emerge, which is known for its outreach work with young family violence survivors, the program has reached many hundreds of children. In the last half of 2019 alone, it reached 120 youngsters – well over the anticipated 88 children. The lockdown this year has meant the program was put on hold due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Paula Westhead, Executive Manager of Emerge, said that the partnership with Kingston had been exceptional from the start.
“Little Sparkz to Bright Minds was a new program developed by us and Kingston City Council saw the many benefits it would bring not only to young children preparing for school but also older children struggling with school it also has a flow on for the mothers in the program who are linked with additional supports if required.,” she said.
“The program aligned with the Council’s Family Violence Strategy, so it has been a win-win for both of us.”
The program enables children who have lost confidence learn coping skills, including basic literacy skills to assist with the transition into a learning environment – either early learning or primary school.
The past year alone, Emerge therapists have watched the transformation of those taking part from being anxious and nervous to becoming more able to express their emotions.
“This has been especially evident from discussions that our therapists have had with the youngsters about their experience of family violence,” Paula said.
“We have seen them grow in their ability talk about feelings, identify personal strengths, and achieve learning results in line with the Victorian Education Department’s milestones,” she said.
Mothers, too, have benefited from receiving specialist support from Emerge’s case workers as well as being linked into services and referral networks.
Over the lifetime of the program, Emerge has conducted Little Sparkz to Bright Eyes in several ways: group and individual therapeutic sessions, after school support using MATLDA robot, and school holiday programs.
Paula said that teachers and therapists had spent considerable time over the years learning how to use and input data into the MATLDA robots to give one to one help whilst keeping other children in the group occupied in a therapeutic meaningful and enjoyable way.