You may have seen a giant giraffe clad van driving around town these past two weeks – and you wouldn’t be mistaken, because Healthy Harold has made his way out to South West Queensland.
Some of you might remember the Life Education van – otherwise known as Healthy Harold. It’s been around since 1979, teaching kids all about the importance of treating our bodies right.
“It’s about teaching young children, and young adults, healthy lifestyle choices. It’s about being responsible for your choices and being aware of the consequences and how amazing our human body is and how easy it is to keep it healthy for a healthy lifestyle,
“Without health you don’t have very much else. It’s about making good lifestyle choices and giving them information on drugs so that they can make informed choices,” says Jo Wyatt, Life Education and Training Manager.
The Life Education van is a extremely forward thinking method of teaching, and has proven to be so for over 30 years. It is very child focused, and the message that is being shared with the kids is still valid today as it was when the program first started.
“We frame it so that we don’t talk about individual things, we talk about people, scenarios, pretend events and they can relate to that and give us their stories- based on what we’ve given them. Rather then them talk about anything private, about their families – but we still problem solve,”
“The kids love it, we love it, it’s a positive program and it can only help the community. I know the community is doing their own drug education program but it can’t hurt if we all work together,”
“We’re not a chalk and talk, and sometimes that disengages a lot of children if it’s chalk and talk. And there aren’t any judgement calls, the kids can be honest and open,” says Jo.
The key messages being taught to both Charleville State School and St Mary’s School was all about empowering the children to make healthy lifestyle
choices for their futures. Thinking about their own personal safety was also a big issue.
“There are different modules. So if the teachers see a particular need with the children and the classes, they can choose a particular module that addresses that need more then say another one,
“As soon as the kids come into the Healthy Harold van, they are open and honest, they feel quite relaxed,” says Claire Johnson, Educator with Life Education.
The van focussed on different subject for the different age groups, with personal safety and careful decision making for the young ones, and alcohol and tobacco for the more senior students. A little birdy, or should we say giraffe, tells us that the big kids also found out some top secret information about Healthy Harold when they had their lessons.
The Life Education van will make it’s way to the schools in the Maranoa on Wednesday afternoon, after what can only be described as a very successful time in Charleville.