Our purpose is to foster positive outcomes for children and their communities by developing innovative arts and social justice programs in collaboration with specialists in children’s education, health, welfare and cultural diversity.
We use the arts to tackle issues that children experience arising from trauma, disadvantage and cultural conflict, and to expand children’s creativity, communication and social skills.
Our programs are delivered in schools, community health centres and other safe and supportive, child-focused community settings throughout Victoria.
They inspire creativity
They inspire connection
They inspire community
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.
‘We believe children can thrive when we acknowledge their capacity to lead local change.’Dr Andrea Lemon, Founder, Kids Thrive
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.
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.
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
Some of 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 well-being, 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.
Building skills for life
Our Kids as Catalyst program builds skills for life. It calls for early engagement, new ideas, respectful community partnerships, and recognises children as vibrant catalysts for positive change. We ask children to reflect on their personal values, and teach them how to conceive, design and implement real-life, philanthropic projects.
The skills developed by children in the program go beyond numeracy and literacy bench-marking to introduce project management, leadership and communication skills. Participants forge partnerships with local volunteers, charities and community organisations; ‘pitch’ community projects to a formidable panel of local community leaders; develop budgets and manage finances; and then deliver their unique community projects.
Young students build deep community connections and deliver tangible, real-world results of which they are justifiably proud. Kids as Catalyst activates and inspires children to take an ongoing interest in community action and social justice.
Leadership and resilience
Kids Thrive collaborates with children as active members of their community, unearthing the issues they care about, and supporting them to make a real impact. Kids as Catalyst develops a sense of engaged citizenship in children, building a strong foundation for a resilient society.
Kids Thrive deliver weekly training in schools over two terms. Schools commit to a weekly 90-minute class, in a designated room with weekly follow up in class for required actions, and attendance of the participating class to two community engagement events.
- Activating children as major contributors to and creators of community
- Fostering children’s resilience, leadership, and entrepreneurship
- Building and embracing leadership opportunities for children in their schools and communities
- Developing children’s passion for social justice, and capacity to drive community change
- Strengthening connections between schools and communities
- Developing children’s literacy, budgeting, and financial management skills
Kids as Catalyst program details
All programs and evaluations