Ripple Effect North West Inc launched its introduction with an evening to showcase the heart behind the organisation.

It recently had a full house of 60 people in Gunnedah, representing local schools interested in the new organisation’s work.

The aim behind starting the not-for-profit is to equip students with mental health education and strategies from preschool to high school age – starting in Gunnedah and surrounding towns.

Introducing the organisation was Penny Haire who informed the audience of the not-for-profits group’s aims and how it all started.

The three guest speakers for the evening included Pauline Carrigan OAM, who spoke about the organisation, Where There’s a Will, which was started by her family in 2016. This group operates in the Upper Hunter area and equips youth with mental health strategies through education.

A handful of people in Gunnedah were inspired by the work in the Upper Hunter and decided to implement a similar organisation in the region – and this is how the Ripple Effect began.

The two other guest speakers for the night were board members of Where There is a Will.

Student leadership coordinator Lindy Hunt and principal of Tuggerah Lakes Secondary School, Elizabeth Bate, spoke of results from this education-based mental health resources.

Elizabeth has been an educator for more than 30 years and has experience as a principal in two high schools.

Lindy had more than 20 years experience in student leadership and was a principal for three schools during that time.

Both advocate for a positive education for students.

Mel McCulloch from The Ripple Effect hoped to give the right vocabulary and education needed to communicate when experiencing difficulties.

“We start in a way that builds that knowledge that children and young people have,” Mel said.

“So, they can talk about it when things get hard.”

The evening was well received by the room full of educators hoping to make a difference to a young person’s upbringing.

“We wanted to give teachers and educators an idea of how it works somewhere else so they can imagine what the organisation’s work might look like,” Mel said.

“It relies on input from teachers, educators and community members to navigate what is best for the community.”

By having the saturation of mental health language and understanding, youth will be equipped to reach out when needed and diminish the stigma.

The idea, as the name suggests, is for the effects to ‘ripple beyond’ one person into families and communities. All funding raised will go directly towards the group’s aim.

“Our role is to facilitate the funding for an assortment of programs that can be taught by educators,” Mel said.

The organisation is first looking at raising funds to send teachers to the Positive Education Schools Association (PESA) conference later this year in Sydney.

Where There’s a Will had previously been to PESA and Ripple Effect wants to have the same insight offered at the conference.

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