We’ve all had to have ‘the talk’ at some stage or several talks, necessary but uncomfortable conversations about sex, drugs, periods, mental health...
They can be a bit embarrassing for everyone involved, so what if there was a resource that helped teachers and parents broach these subjects with kids and made the process easier?
Put together by Tasha Lawton, the mother of two teens, Talk Revolution is designed to open the lines of communication around important but confronting issues with young people.
Despite having a good relationship with her kids, she could see that some topics were more difficult to discuss than others and Lawton noticed that many of her kids’ friends didn’t have parents or adults in their lives they could comfortably talk to. The school curriculum seemed outdated too.
So, in collaboration with experienced HPE teachers from all parts of Australia, she created Talk Revolution. Talk Revolution includes over 70 videos featuring kids talking to other kids about everything from mental health to drug use and sexuality. The resources cover the signs to look out for, how to raise topics with friends that might be at risk, discuss options and places to get further help.
“This content is essentially ‘taught’ by kids to kids, with the guidance of teachers. It feels more like an open conversation than a lesson,” Lawton says.
The program has been written in line with the National and State (PD)HPE Curriculums, covers up to 85 per cent of the Health Content component and includes over 500 pages of teacher notes and lesson plans. The age appropriate content covers the primary and secondary school years and although designed for teachers, parent resources are also available.
“I enlisted the expertise of Janice Atkin (ACHPER NSW, PDHPE Education Consultant, now working with ACARA and general all-round guru of all things PDHPE related) to oversee a team of seven highly qualified, experienced and passionate HPE teachers who each wrote the activities and lesson plans.
“There were a number of group consultations held and a few rounds of discussions to ensure the content was perfectly en pointe, age-appropriate, 100 per cent in line with the individual state and national curriculums, easy to use and unique to each topic. The teachers themselves learned as they went and got so much out of writing them on a personal growth level.
“I was responsible for the script writing – which I then ran past Janice and the team to make sure it was 'class room appropriate', relevant, authentic and impactful enough to engage the kids. I also ran it past a couple of child psychologists too.
“I then put a call out for kids to audition to be part of the videos and the response was overwhelming – every single kid saying either 'I wish there was something like this when we were younger', 'no-one at school ever talked to us about this stuff', 'we don't get taught anything like this at school at the moment', and they could see friends around them struggling with various issues and wanted to help," she says.
“The videos offer practical advice, for example, when a friend tells you they feel really low, don’t say ‘Do some exercise and get those endorphins going and you’ll be fine’, instead try ‘when I’ve felt low in the past, I found exercising with someone helped me feel much better, so if you ever want to go for a walk or run with someone I’d love to come with you’. These hints can make a big difference.”
Talk Revolution is designed to complement and enhance any existing work or resources that a school/teacher is already implementing and can be dipped in and out of and used to fill any gaps throughout the year depending on what topic is being covered and when.
Once purchased, it can be used by as many teachers within the school as required and delivered to as many students as desired in Years 5–10.
“The initial response is very positive, a handful of schools have already purchased which is very comforting given budget cuts and all the other crazy things that teachers are having to contend with at this time. Teachers are finding the resource very 'modern', relatable, high quality, and are particularly loving the 'kids teaching kids' video component. It's saving them time, it's slotting in nicely because it's been written in line with the curriculum. Most importantly it’s filling a very big and important hole in the curriculum,” Lawton says.