Kids Thrive program Kids as Catalyst sees kids build resilience, leadership and entrepreneurial skills

 “Before I did this, I thought kids just have to step back and the adults did things because but Kids Thrive taught me I have a voice and I can be heard. Now I know I can change something, no matter what my age is. The kids out there who think they are too young to do something – well believe in yourself, you can do something like I can.” Charlotte, aged 12.

Better support for family violence survivors and connecting with older people and refugees are just some of the many projects being led by children across Victoria who are part of the Kids as Catalyst (KiC) program.

(KiC) is a schools philanthropy initiative for children aged 8-12. It is a two-phase, 16-week program where children begin their work in the classroom then step out into the community with a local community partner.

We are currently running KiC in four primary schools involving hundreds of children in Werribee, Benalla and Maldon.

The children of Wyndham Park Primary School recently participated in a Radio National feature on KiC.

One of the groups called “Genderosity” is organising a ‘care pack’ for women and children fleeing family violence.

“Although it’s just a small thing, it helps someone bit by bit,” says Charlotte one of the group members.

“I would like to say to all the women and kids out there that experience crisis that they are not alone, they have people caring for them.

Another group, “Cultures Collide, not Divide”, is developing public signage to welcome members of the Karen community.  Achilles, one of the group members said he and others were wanting to do something concrete to support new arrivals and were developing the multilingual slogan “refugees are welcome here.”

“I felt that many cultures have not been welcomed into Australia and hopefully I can change that,” he says.

Andrea Rieniets, co-founder of the programs said using their own values, the children wanted to tackle a broad range of community issues such as plastic pollution, environmental awareness, homelessness, isolation among older people and animal welfare. In the process, they were discovering new things about their local communities and their own capacity to make meaningful change. We ask children “What do you see around you that you want to change? You can do it!”

“Children are developing connections with others in their community who share their concerns about the world. The program provides them with a holistic approach to becoming active philanthropists – empowering young people, connecting them with their local community. Through this process, we see students building their resilience, leadership skills and entrepreneurialism,” says Ms Rieniets.

“Children are not used to approaching adults and offering help. It’s usually the other way around,” says Ms Rienets. “It’s a seismic shift in perception, both of themselves and their role in the world. Not only do children grow in height during the KiC program, their levels of courage and purpose give them a core strength and they grow as community members.”

Throughout September schools will host celebrations where children come together to show the community and the funders what they have achieved out in the community throughout the KIC program.

Community partners in local areas include Smith Family in Wyndham and the Tomorrow Today Foundation in Benalla.

KiC is funded by the Victorian Department of Education & Training, VicHealth, Sidney Myer Fund, The William Buckland Foundation, Helen Macpherson Smith Trust, Newsboys Foundation, Collier Charitable Fund, W.C.F. Thomas Charitable Trust.

Community members are welcome to attend the following showcase events.

Maldon Primary School
Monday 4 September
10.30-1.30 pm
Maldon Community Centre
The Band Hall, Senior Citizens Centre, Progress Hall,
6 Francis St, Maldon

Wednesday 6 September
10.30 -1.30pm
Our Lady of the Southern Cross Primary School, 2/20 Howqua Way, Wyndham Vale
This event involves Wyndham Park PS and Our Lady of the Southern Cross PS.

Benalla (Benalla P-12 College)
Friday 8 September
10.30 -1.30pm
Lakeside Community Centre, Benalla
(Showgrounds entrance)