Bushfire Kids Connect, Growing with Gratitude & Makers Empire Celebrate Successful Naturally Brave Pilot

Over the last two terms, Makers Empire, along with partners, Bushfire Kids Connect, and Growing With Gratitude, has been running a pilot program called Naturally BraveBushfire Kids Connect is a community group that helps students and their families affected by bushfires and Growing With Gratitude specialises in delivering mental wellbeing programs to schools.

Makers Empire and Bushfire Kids Connect program have previously partnered for two years on the Bushfire Brave program, which helps students learn about bushfire management, what to expect in a bushfire and how to help families affected by bushfires. This program has been delivered to 16 schools in the Adelaide Hills and SA’s southeast regions.

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Building on the success of Bushfire Brave, the Naturally Brave program for grade 3-6 students aimed to:

  • Help students understanding their highest potential disaster risk in their local community context and creating a ‘disaster reduction risk action plan’ responsive to their location.
  • Help students to be well-informed and understand why natural disasters happen, how they are controlled, their impact on the environment, and approaches to disaster management that promote sustainability. Indigenous land management will help us understand the importance of the why, where and how of natural disasters.
  • Support students’ emotional wellbeing by teaching skills including ownership and a focus on service to others (volunteering), self-awareness, gratitude, empathy and kindness, as well as coping strategies in an evacuation.
  • Empower students as problem solvers and creative designers who can make a difference in their families’ lives. Students will use the design thinking problem-solving methodology and 3D design to create solutions to help during an evacuation such as packing a bag, helping mum and dad, protecting animals etc.

The pilot program is supported by the South Australian Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services, Joe Szakacs, and the South Australian Fire and Emergency Services Commission (SAFECOM) via its Disaster Risk Reduction Grants program.

Naturally Brave 2023 Pilot

During May to November this year, nine primary schools in the Riverland — Barmera Primary School, Berri Primary School, Cobdogla Primary School, Glossop Primary School, Monash Primary School, Loxton Primary School, Our Lady of the River, Renmark North Primary School, and St Albert’s School, Loxton — learnt about Natural Disaster management, strategies and resilience.

Students then designed solutions to help disaster-affected families from both practical and wellness perspectives. The pilot included professional development days for teachers (see below photos) and students completing the new Naturally Brave Challenge Course.

In late November, 2023, the schools came together for a showcase event at Our Lady of the River School in Berri to celebrate and share their learning. Students from all nine schools produced designs showing their unique solutions to the design challenge: “design something to help a family or community who have been impacted by a natural disaster.”

Students alternated between hosting their stands and sharing their projects with stand visitors, and visiting other schools’ stands to learn about their projects. Students were encouraged to ask each other questions and to provide constructive feedback to each other.
Invited guests, including representatives from the project sponsor, SAFECOM, and Peter Hunter, Mayor of Renmark toured the stalls to learn more about the projects and ask students questions.

There were two prizes up for grabs – the industry award judged by invited industry guests and the peer award, as voted on by the students. So as they visited each other’s stalls, students voted on their favourite stand (students were not allowed to vote on their own stand!).

To conclude the event’s formal proceedings each student was presented with a certificate. Amanda Moretta and Ellen Wei from SAFECOM announced the joint winners of the Peer Award as voted on by all participating students, Team 1: Monash Primary School and Team 1: Our Lady of the River School. 

Amanda and Ellen also announced the Industry Award they had previously judged as Barmera Primary School.

Congratulations to the winning schools! All winning teams were presented with a 3D printed trophy by Mayor of Barmera Berri, Ella Winnall.

From Our Partners, Supporters & Schools

‘Sebastian and I are incredibly proud of the design ideas created by the students. What an impressive collection of practical and innovative ideas that has come from your experience in the recent floods. Imagine how your designs can help children impacted by natural disasters in future – well done!’” 
Carly & Sebastian Ascott from Bushfire Kids Connect.
A huge thank you to South Australian Fire and Emergency Services Commission (SAFECOM) and Joe Szakacs Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services of South Australia for funding the project under the 2022/23 Disaster Risk Reduction funding. And also a big thanks to Amanda Moretta and Ellen Wei from SAFECOM for coming today and for being industry expert judges,”
Ash Manuel from Growing with Gratitude.

Naturally Brave 2024

Makers Empire will be partnering with Bushfire Kids Connect and Growing with Gratitude again in 2024 to deliver this program to 20 schools in NSW and 20 schools in SA.

Learn more and register your school’s interest now

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