Name: Glenda Kauta
Organisation: Wyndham School Cluster Family Support Program
Role Description: Family Support Worker
First trained in Seasons for Growth: 2007
Programs trained in: Children and Young People's
Why did you decide to train in Seasons for Growth? I became involved with Seasons for Growth when I was looking to help some grieving students. Back then, I was working for 6 schools in the Western Suburbs of Melbourne. I came across Seasons for Growth on the internet and immediately booked in for training. I wish I had known about Seasons for Growth 20 years ago when my husband passed away leaving me with a 7-year-old and a fourteen-year-old still at home!
How many groups have you Companioned? Since completing the training in 2007, I have run the program most terms and, sometimes, more than once a term. At one school I have run the program for students who had a parent who had suicided! Very sad but, at the same time, very valuable! I’ve trialled different age groups together and different numbers of students. I believe my most successful group is the last one that I ran. At some schools I had a trained Companion to assist me with running the program. Now, I work at one school with nearly 1500 students and I run the program alone.
Any highlights of Companioning that you would like to share? My most successful group included two students who had completed the program the previous year. One of those students had her mother pass away the week before the program started and when she came back to school she told her teacher she “needed to see Glenda so she could do Seasons for Growth again”. I thought it might be too early for her but she insisted saying that, “it had helped her heaps when her mother became so sick last year”. As we had already completed the first session, I asked the other students if it was ok with them for a new student to join the group, they all agreed and it was a great decision. The students were all a bit shy at first and there a few quiet tears from several of the students in the second session, which this new student began in, but this seemed to bond the group from then on.
Do you have any advice for other Companions? In the past I have been pressured, against my better judgement, into running the program for students who were too young and the program went over their heads. I will now only run it for students from grade 2 upwards.
What part of Seasons for Growth do you treasure or enjoy the most? I don’t worry about how much is written in the journals, it’s the conversations that are the most valuable. I often see students make new and strong friendships within the group. Just having someone say at the end that they know it’s OK to cry, to feel anger, that they feel better now they have shared their story, they no longer feel alone or that they realise now that it’s not their fault, is what makes the program worth it to me. I feel like the program and I do make a difference! A cliché I know but true all the same.