Name: Andrea Eadie
Organisation: Scripture Union Queensland
Role description: School Chaplain and Programs Developer
Year first trained in Seasons for Growth: 2001
What programs have you trained in? Children and Young People’s program
Why did you decide to train in Seasons for Growth? At the interview for my chaplaincy job, I was asked if I was willing to train to be a Companion as the program was already being run in the school and was seen as a valuable support for children.
How many groups have you Companioned? I have Companioned at least a couple each year since I trained, so approximately 40.
Are there any highlights of Companioning that you would like to share? I love it when children and young people have that light bulb moment realising they are not the only one on a journey of grief and begin to experience the mutual support that can occur when they share their stories.
Have you any special stories about Seasons for Growth groups or program participants you would like to share? In a few groups I have run, the children as students of a big school who hardly knew each other prior to Seasons for Growth, have formed strong friendships. Boys and girls voluntarily arrive at the start of a lunch hour in order to spend time together prior to an after lunch program.
Recently a young man who had been a student at our school came back to visit. He is now studying at university to counsel children. Part of the reason for his choice of study, is the very difficult experience of his parent’s divorce and the support he received from his Seasons for Growth group and chaplaincy.
Do you have any advice for other Companions?
It can be such a pain getting started- explaining the program, providing permission notes, chasing them up and replacing lost ones, explaining the program to the “other” parent (in the case of a difficult separated relationship), organising a room in which to hold Seasons for Growth and a suitable time to run it etc., etc. Once the program begins, it is so worth all the effort. If there is a possibility of Companioning another program, do it! Encouraging other suitable people to train as Companions will spread the benefits even further.
What has been your biggest personal or professional learning from being involved with Seasons for Growth?
Even for the students who are receiving assistance from a psychologist or counsellor, the impact of a small, supportive community learning together is profound.
Finally, what part of the program do you treasure or enjoy most and why?
People often comment that boys are not very good at sharing feelings, having deep discussions or caring for each other. I have so much evidence from Seasons for Growth programs that both boys and girls, given the opportunity and support can do all of this and grow in their ability to do so. I am excited as a counsellor of adults, that children who begin to process grief in healthy ways so early in life, will experience many future mental health benefits.