A new community organisation in Gunnedah called Ripple Effect North West Inc is looking to equip local children from – pre school to high school – with skills and strategies they need to improve their mental health and wellbeing.

The not-for-profit group is looking to raise funds with 100 per cent of money raised to be reinvested back into mental health programs in the Gunnedah and surrounding region.

Ripple Effect North West is based on the highly successful Upper Hunter organisation, Where there’s a Will (WTAW), which works with the community, children and young people in the area to build knowledge and resilience for the mental health.

Ripple Effect North West committee member Kate Pinn said drawing on the knowledge of a proven, research-based model such as WTAW would be a great advantage.

“We want to learn from Scone, they’ve been doing it for eight years,” she said. 

“There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that it is benefiting their community.”

WTAW was established in 2016 by the Carrigan Family from Scone. They believed in the idea that ‘prevention through education’ for all youth, preschool to Year 12 can teach our youth to build their own resource toolkit, so they can call on their strengths to make informed choices for their wellbeing now, during and long after their formal education is completed.

Fellow Gunnedah member Jacinta Manion said everyone knew someone who has faced mental health challenges in their lifetime.

“It has affected everyone in the community,” she said.

Just like the WATW program, Jacinta said the Gunnedah initiative will focus on a proactive rather than a reactive approach to wellness and be incorporated into as many schools, community groups and sporting organisations as possible. 

“Hopefully it will have a generational change,” Jacinta added.

“This program runs from pre-school all the way to high school.

“It is going to be one common language so that from the day they start school kids will come out well equipped with strategies to live a better life.”

“We would like to provide the same support to our Gunnedah community.”

Ripple Effect North West, will focus on fundraising and is looking to support prevention programs such as Teen Mental Health First Aid delivered throughout all secondary schools, Youth Mental Health First Aid for community members, various Leadership programs, Post Graduate Positive Education Certificate for qualified teachers, and funded teachers to attend the National Positive Education Schools Association conference. 

Ripple Effect is inviting all members of the public to a free presentation to be hald at St Xavier’s Primary School hall next Tuesday to learn more about the organisation.

Attendees will hear the dynamic Pauline Carrigan OAM, Elizabeth Bate and Lindy Hunt talk about how we can make real and lasting change in Gunnedah and surrounding communities.

It is in the area of prevention that the community identified as being the gap between government-funded initiatives towards treating and improving mental health, and what approach will help achieve the goals and allow Gunnedah kids to flourish and thrive.

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