Many young women across Australia – and indeed the world – face challenges in their lives, particularly when it comes to their wellbeing. Picture-perfect social media accounts are helping to feed body image problems and anxiety issues. while pressures from study, friendships and relationships all add to the ever-growing demands on students.
At Mentone Girls’ Grammar, these issues were something the school wanted to tackle head on in an innovative way.
Teachers Camilla Gaff and Kylie Federici were among a team of people at the school to work on a project through the school’s Enterprise initiatives started by principal Fran Reddan.
The idea the group came up with was simple but brilliant: Mentone Girls’ Grammar SHE Journals.
The journals, launched by the school this year, bring together a wealth of information, resources and exercises all focused on student wellbeing.
“We know young girls navigating their way through childhood and adolescence have different challenges to overcome,” Federici explains.
“[And] we searched the world for tools and resources that embed wellbeing behaviours into the fabric of every girl’s day at Mentone Girls’ Grammar.
“Some resources focused on just one element of wellbeing while others were only for a small age-group. What we were looking for didn’t exist.”
Gaff adds, “There were resources for mindfulness, others for confidence building, resources for growth mindset, but none that covered all of the topics together.
“So, we decided to bring all of these elements (and more) into a beautiful, feminine, informative and unique journal that supports the Mentone Girls’ Grammar WAVES – Wellbeing, Achievement, Values, Enterprise, Success – principles that underpin all that we do here at school.”
The group of educators and staff used their expertise to put together Mentone Girls’ Grammar SHE Journals for students of different ages and stages of education, from three years old (in ELC) to 18 (studying their VCE). They used extensive university and health research into dealing with issues for girls when putting it together.
The school has produced three different journals offering younger students an introduction to the idea of wellbeing and older students resources and advice on everything from emotional health, mindfulness, financial literacy and nutrition, to managing friendships and positive body image.
They also have the ever-important space for a school planner (diary) and students are prompted to note down how much sleep and water they have had, along with specific wellbeing questions the girls can answer each day.
“The SHE Journals offer resources and tools that encourage the development of self-management skills so that our girls can overcome hurdles, develop resilience and celebrate all that is fabulous about being a girl,” Gaff says. “They help girls to feel less isolated in their feelings and experiences and help them to self-manage their wellbeing more successfully.
“Because knowing that others experience the same feelings, challenges and thoughts brings enormous comfort to girls.”
The SHE Journals have been extremely popular not only with Mentone Girls’ Grammar’s own students. Other schools (and parents) are keen to be able to use them for their own students.
Principal Fran Reddan says the SHE Journal is a world-first initiative and proof that the enterprising school culture leads to practical benefits for students at Mentone Girls’ (and everywhere).
“I am very proud of the way our staff and students have collaborated to contribute to the important work of supporting our young people – we need more of this in the world!”
- The journals are available in SHE MINI (ELC to year 1), SHE JUNIOR (years 2 to 6) and SHE SENIOR (years 7 to 12).
Mentone Girls’ Grammar, 11 Mentone Parade, Mentone.
- 03 9581 1200