Kids as Catalysts is an award-winning schools-based program that equips children aged 8-12 with real world experience in leading positive community change. The curriculum-aligned program gives students the skills to identify and solve real problems facing their community, through creative and collaborative projects.
It has been delivered in 35 Victorian schools since 2011.
‘I felt really proud about myself that I could make a big change in the community. I can do more than I thought.’ Jack, 11 years old.
The impact of the Covid-19 on many children has been significant. Disrupted connections with friends and their wider community, and an uncertainty of what the future holds has impacted substantially on the mental health of many. A report co-authored by Kids Helpline and Australian Human Rights Commission found that more than 2,500 children aged 5-25 called the helpline between January and April this year. The top five concerns were:
- Mental health concerns resulting from COVID-19
- Social isolation
- Education impacts
- Impacts on family life
- Changes to plans and usual activities
The Commission concluded that 'Prioritising the best interests and needs of children and young people in these challenging and extraordinary times is crucial. The health, social, educational, economic, and recreational impacts will be far-reaching for them, well beyond the pandemic’s immediate effects.' Australian Human Rights Commission, 2020.
Kids as Catalysts empowers children with real life skills
Children can and should be at the heart of post-Covid community recovery. Across the globe in 2019 we saw young people’s desire for change and their incredible power to muster support for action on climate change through social media and other networks.
Our challenge is to meet their courage and determination and provide a means for them to continue to take practical actions to lead the change they want to see in their communities, ensuring their impact remains visible and their voices continue to be heard.
Watch: Northern Bay College teacher Julie Deans talks about Kids as Catalysts.
Kids as Catalysts working in Black Saturday bushfire communities
In 2019, Kids Thrive was invited by the Department of Education and Training Victoria to deliver Kids as Catalysts in communities impacted by the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires. Research found that many students in bushfire-affected areas were behind their peers, even ten years on from the fires.
Kids Thrive partnered with students in Eaglehawk Primary School, Kinglake Primary School and Willomavin Primary School to create and lead community projects that addressed local needs and connected local people.
‘The Kids as Catalyst philanthropy program has considerable potential for broad social impacts and should be prioritised as an intervention.’ University of Melbourne, Child-led Community Change Strategy Evaluation Report 2013-2016.