Our Philosophy

Kids Thrive places at the core of all our work a heart-centred, long-term view of children as major contributors to, creators of, and leaders of community. We acknowledge that whilst children are dependent on adults, they have great agency and capacity for influence and for taking direct action, leading to fundamental community change.

Our Values and Approaches

Child-led social change
Child-led social change recognises that children are able to initiate and lead positive change for the benefit of all.

Kids Thrive defines child-led change as:

  • children taking a lead in identifying community strengths, and finding ways to increase those strengths through their own actions
  • children identifying community problems and finding solutions and actions they can take to address these problems – with or without the support of adults
  • children taking life-transforming ideas and skills back to their homes and communities, leading their adults by example into new ways of being in the world.

This requires us, as adults, to:

  • give children space and support to be deep and insightful people
  • create opportunities for children to participate in community decision-making
  • allow our entrenched prejudices or limitations to be challenged and even changed by children.

Prevention and early intervention
Kids Thrive focuses on prevention and early intervention, engaging children aged 0-12 in positive ideas and practices before they enter their adolescent years, and before any potential problems become too firmly entrenched. Through the children we also connect with their families, extended communities and the professionals who work with them.

Professional partnerships
Kids Thrive partners artists with children’s specialists in the areas of health, education, welfare and cultural diversity to develop and deliver programs engaging children across Victoria, with a particular focus on vulnerable children from at-risk and disadvantaged communities. We work with our non-arts partners ‘on the floor’ – in classrooms, health centres and community spaces – teaming up with educators, family violence prevention workers, maternal and child health nurses, cultural diversity specialists and community activists to inspire, educate and activate kids, and through them their communities, to create positive change in their lives.

Evidence-based practice
All our work draws on leading international research into child development, child trauma, arts and education, leadership and resilience, anti-bias and community development. We provide professional development and ongoing support to our program partners to embed these approaches in their daily professional practice.

Inclusion and diversity
Kids Thrive programs cultivate personal values and attributes in children that directly correlate to a reduction in discrimination and a positive celebration of diversity, with children developing empathy, resilience, personal accountability, self-awareness, and respect for self, others and the community.

Slow art model
Our programs are delivered using the Kids Thrive ‘Slow Art’ model, a framework for working in social innovation and community cultural development, developed over 20 years by Directors Andrea Rieniets and Dr Andrea Lemon. This model is particularly useful when working with traumatised communities – embedding programs for 3-5 years, and delivering gentle, repeated cycles of learning, rehearsing, celebrating and reflecting. The Slow Art model is proven to be highly successful in supporting vulnerable children and communities to succeed by slowly building skills, interest, trust, confidence and investment over an extended period of time.

Arts and cultural practice as central to human growth and development
Kids Thrive passionately believes the arts are equal to education, health and social welfare in their capacity to grow healthy children and communities. When we immerse young children in arts experiences that engage them physically, emotionally and cognitively we grow their capacity to understand the world and their place within it. The arts open learning pathways in the brain; transform education practice and classroom engagement; build social and emotional wellbeing, empathy and tolerance; and help children cope with the effects of violence, disadvantage and trauma.

Sustainable programs and outcomes
We aim for sustainable outcomes for participants, partners and communities, by incorporating professional development in all our programs, and involving children’s specialists and professionals in actively developing and delivering our programs.