It was a crowded campus at Fahan on Monday 11 April with over 300 bears at school to join in the celebration of the amalgamation of The Alannah and Madeline Foundation’s Better Buddies program with Fahan’s own Big Sister, Little Sister program.
The founder of Better Buddies and Prevention Manager at The Alannah and Madeline Foundation, Maree Stanley, said she was excited to see how the collaboration between staff and students at Fahan School has led to the successful introduction of Better Buddies in the School community.
“Better Buddies allows each school to tailor a buddy system to their unique environment, which is evident at Fahan School,” Ms Stanley said.
“Buddy Bear wears the Fahan School uniform and will be a guide for the School’s own Big Sister, Little Sister program.”
The Alannah and Madeline Foundation approached Fahan School in 2010, based on the School’s existing buddy programs and their recent award-winning anti-cyberbullying film clip, to become a Better Buddies School.
Ordinarily schools are required to apply for the program, which provides a framework for schools to further develop their buddy systems and provides a guide for implementation, specially tailored activities and student training.
Maree Stanley visited the School at the beginning of March to meet the driving forces behind the implementation of the project, the 2011 Junior School Chairs, Stella Weston-Smith and Isabel Bennett, Deputy Head Girl, Elli Hopkins, and teacher Jane Macrossan.
“Meeting Maree was fantastic because she is an amazing lady who we think has put so much hard work and time into a program that really does help children,” Isabel said.
“As the Junior School Chairs, we want to continue her work by helping our teachers to organise events and programs that involve bringing the Junior School and Senior School together to create positive relationships between the older and younger girls.”
Stella said that now they have incorporated Better Buddies into the existing school programs it would help them to uphold the tradition of Fahan’s program while also extending it and making it even more successful.
“Buddy Bear will now be the official mascot for all of our Big Sister, Little Sister events throughout the year and stand as a symbol of friendship and caring,” Stella said.
“As part of the Picnic we give the youngest girl in each Big Sister, Little Sister ‘family’ a purple Buddy Bear.”
Ms Stanley said she was also impressed by the creation of the first customised Buddy Bear in Australia, designed by Year 10 student Lucy Rees.
“The work the Fahan community has done to address the issue of bullying is inspirational and a testament to what young people can do to help raise awareness of the issue in their school community and begin to impact on positive bystander behaviours,” she said.
The School hopes that these programs will help children learn the skills and values associated with empathy and compassion.
The picnic involved participation from every student and member of staff at the School, with the assistance of many bears of course.
Each family took part in a colouring in competition where they drew a picture of their family members. The winners received a pack of Easter eggs for all of the 'big sisters' and a giant Easter Bunny for the youngest member of the family.
Lunch boxes, made possible by the donations from the following Hobart businesses Juicy Isle, NAB Sandy Bay, Elders Brown and Banks, Ridge Packaging, Coles Sandy Bay and the Shield family, were sold for three dollars with all proceeds going to The Alannah and Madeline Foundation, which the Year 12 Student Leaders have nominated as their major charity for 2011.