We like to acknowledge and celebrate the amazing work of our Seasons for Growth Companions, within their communities, and this month we would like to introduce one of our Companions, Pat Pietsch, who works at St Michael’s College, Primary Campus, Beverley, SA, as a Student Counsellor and Yoga Teacher.
Pat first trained in Seasons for Growth pre-2000 when her School Principal recognised a need to provide support for their students who were grieving in their country school, in South Australia.
Pat has Companioned over 60 groups and is now a Seasons for Growth in South Australia.
Are there any highlights of companioning that you would like to share? I love to see the joy that children experience when they first become part of a group. They enjoy telling their stories, sad or happy, and love being with their friends. They are disappointed when we have to miss a week due to a school event. Parents too, have remarked on their child’s increased confidence in talking about their ‘feelings’.
Have you any special stories about Seasons for Growth groups or program participants you would like to share? My favourite story is of a Year 4 boy diagnosed with a chronic illness. 6 months later, when he participated in Seasons for Growth, his mother wrote me a beautiful letter saying how much the group had helped him deal with his diagnosis. He told her that it was the best program that he had participated in, in and out of hospital. The children in my groups have loved the activities, like making a hot chocolate in Winter and a Grass man in Spring. We also play a ‘Memory’ game with a dice, each number representing a different memory, such as a Grandparent or a holiday memory.
Do you have any advice for other Companions? Get organised, make it fun & meaningful! I keep a coloured box for each season to store activities and display items. Knowing you have things ready to go, assists in building your confidence to run the program.
What has been your biggest personal or professional learning from being involved with Seasons for Growth? Recognising how helpful the ‘Seasons Metaphor’ is in dealing with the ups & downs of life. Also understanding the part that grief and loss play in our relationships. As a Counsellor, I am continually surprised how often grief and loss has contributed to the issues my clients present.
Finally, what part of the Seasons for Growth Program do you treasure or enjoy most and why? I love all of it. Each section is special, but for different reasons. The first part is exciting as you start something new and discover what is in your Journal. The middle sections are precious as everyone gets to know each other by listening to their experiences, and the last sessions celebrate the Journey.