Companion Story - Seasons for Growth and its success in our school

Name: Jennifer Boyle & Whitney Grimm
Organisation:Wingham High School
Role Description: Head Teacher Wellbeing and Student Wellbeing Teacher
State: NSW
Programs trained in: Children and Young People's Program
Why did you decide to train in Seasons for GrowthWe had heard some really good things about the ‘Seasons for Growth’ training so when we were given the option to do it in 2016, we jumped at the idea. We had seen a huge need to provide our students with extra support, especially in light of the fact that 3 children lost very close relatives during the year. We were surprised to learn how easy, comprehensive and straight forward the process was. We couldn’t wait to get back to our school and get started. 
Any highlights of Companioning that you would like to share? Our first group was made up of senior students from our school, (level 4 Seasons for Growth). Our group began with 7 and finished with 5. However, we found that the students stayed in the group for as much as they were ready for. We had been working individually with most of these students over the years and, despite all the one-on-one work we had done with these students, we could not have anticipated the power of the group dynamic and the impact that it had on each of the students within the group. Students admitted to saying things in the group that they had not spoken out loud to anyone. They admitted to feeling safe and heard, not feeling like they were alone anymore and, that they had time to process and express their emotions. They spoke about the connections made within the group, which they believe will be life-long associations.
Any special stories that you would like to share? Through the use of the group work and the metaphor of the seasons, our students were then able to articulate some of their thoughts and feelings to their friends and family. They even felt so comfortable with their thoughts and feelings about grief that our senior students volunteered to speak to our junior students at their Seasons for Growth information session. It was at this session that we, as Companions, could clearly see how far these students had progressed and how much they had grown through the process. It was a proud moment.
Any advice for other Companions? Our advice to anyone working with senior students would be to take time with the enrolment process, allow the students to choose to be there. This helps them form respect and trust in you as Companions. We will continue to use the Seasons for Growth Program in our school as a powerful process in students’ journey through loss and change.