Angela Ballinger, Companion

Angela Ballinger

Role description: A learning support officer, running the program with our Chaplain Nat Finn with 12-16 year olds.

Year first trained in Seasons for Growth: Nov, 2003

 

Why did you decide to train in SfG?  Throughout my history of community involvement I found this program to be beneficial and when I started in the high school there was a definite need to run SFG not only for loss and grief but for loss of identity, family separation, siblings and extended families etc.

 

How many groups have you companioned?  I have companioned at least four children, young people of groups.

 

Are there any highlights of companioning that you would like to share?  Have you any special stories about Seasons for Growth groups or program participants you would like to share? The highlights for us have been that we value and respect our students. We also share biographies and pictures of Bethany Hamilton, Oprah Winfrey, Mick Vujic etc to show the challenges people have and how they manage to overcome and inspire. We do feel it's important who we put together in our groups so consider the group dynamics. We work closely with our students and catch up regularly. At the end of the group we buy a small gift, a tree of  life key ring  with coloured stones and give each them each a card with inspirational words that relate to them. We also get the students to write in another card the qualities they see in each other for them to keep. Our students have an understanding of loss and grief on a mature level and are happy to engage in the group. Our favourite thing is that we get to take our students to the beach for a morning tea and hand out certificates which makes them feel special and ends our SFG group on a nature level.

 

Do you have any advice for other Companions? Our advice would be to build a relationship with the students beforehand as this builds trust and works well for us.

 

What has been your biggest personal or professional learning from being involved with SfG?  The maturity, compassion and understanding that everyone is unique and no two stories are the same and our students are very appreciative for the support. 

 

Finally, what part of the program do you treasure or enjoy most and why?  The fact that the program is connected with the seasons and we use pictures when talking about them and is connected with nature and has an easy reflective overview using colours and changes. 

* This photo was taken on our celebration day.