Adelaide Hills community group, Bushfire Kids Connect, and Makers Empire are happy to announce a new, Australia-first pilot school program to deliver education in bushfire awareness and wellness in time for the upcoming fire season.
This pioneering program will be trialled in ten South Australian primary schools in the city, hills and regional communities as a precursor to a larger, Australia-wide program. The participating schools are Annesley Junior College, Lenswood Primary School, Lincoln Gardens Primary School, Lobethal Lutheran School, Lobethal Primary School, Mercedes College, Nazareth College, Port Lincoln Primary School, Scotch College and Stirling East Primary School.
The program aims to help students understand bushfires and why they happen, their impact on the environment, and approaches to bushfire management that promote sustainability, like indigenous land and fire management.
The program will also empower children to become innovators and problem-solvers in a fun and authentic way. Using Makers Empire, a child could design a tracking monitor to predict fire behaviour, create a design that can help get food and water to animals after a fire or design a toy for a bushfire survivor child to make them smile.
The pilot program will be achieved through a bushfire awareness and wellness-themed Challenge Course using Makers Empire. A number of teachers from each school will attend a Learning by Design professional development course, including guest speakers such as a forest ranger for expert advice on the environment, bushfire prevention and wellbeing.
Nine-year-old Bushfire Kids Connect co-founder Sebastian Ascott experienced first-hand the impact of bushfire, when his home and community was impacted by the 2019 Cudlee Creek fire.
Sebastian says he can’t wait to be a part of the pilot program and to also help other young people who live in bushfire risk areas to feel more empowered, “I’m excited to use Makers Empire to create a design that can help families like mine.”
His mother and co-founder of Bushfire Kids Connect, Carly Ascott, said, “After our home was impacted by the Cudlee Creek fires, we identified a gap in mental health support for children after fires.”
“Our child-led organisation focuses on injecting fun back into the lives of children impacted by fires through events building community connection and resilience. Giving these children the opportunity and platform to connect in a positive learning environment around bushfire awareness and wellness will help their long-term mental health recovery (find more info here) and help them to understand the why, where and how bushfires occur in Australia. This partnership with Makers Empire is an exciting opportunity to help our next generation grow their understanding, resilience and emotional preparedness around bushfires,” she added.
Mandi Dimitriadis, Director of Learning at Makers Empire, said, “Having grown up in Cummins, Eyre Peninsula, I personally witnessed the devastation of bushfires on communities, particularly on our children. We look forward to working with Bushfire Kids Connect to help children become better informed about bushfires, support their well-being and empower them to solve problems caused by bushfires.”
South Australian Emergency Services Minister Vincent Tarzia said he was eager to see the results of the pilot.
“This pilot program has incredible potential to better educate children about bushfires and ways to keep the community safe, which is vital for the sustainability of South Australia because the young people of today are the leaders of tomorrow,” Minister Tarzia said.
The Makers Empire – Bushfire Kids Connect Program began rolling out in the pilot schools in October 2021.