Creating the Healthy, Happy Minds Wellbeing Mural

 In Brimbank Youth Council, News

Imarsha and Binusha from the Brimbank Youth Council recently completed a massive project that involved the creation of a multicultural wellbeing mural by the student voice teams!

Creating the Healthy, Happy Minds Wellbeing Mural, Keilor Downs College 2022 (written by Imarsha Pathirana, edited by Binusha Pathirana)

Let me introduce you to the student voice action teams of Keilor Downs College. We are a team of passionate youth ranging from years 7-12 who are divided into various teams consisting of the events, wellbeing and facilities teams. Our team has been the voice of students in our school since 2017 and are any and all youth ranging from years 7-12. Our past projects involved organising IDAHOBIT Day, Harmony Day, Open Night and The Summer Musical Festival. Aside from events, you can find us conducting student feedback surveys and managing the student led Instagram page.

During the height of lockdowns in 2020, the Student Voice Action Teams at Keilor Downs College began the creation of a motivational wellbeing mural. The aim of the project was to create a lasting, positive impact in our school community to re-engage the school body after the COVID-19 pandemic.

A sense of community is always important and effective in any common social setting, but in school’s it is ever so important. As young people ourselves, we know that students are searching for friendship, guidance and a sense of self. School settings often provide an escape for those who are struggling at home or in other environments. This boosts students’ wellbeing and improves their mental health, and as a result of the current ongoing pandemic, the sense of school and general community has been severely diminished. This community was important to so many and losing it during the pandemic took a toll on many students’ well being. Therefore, the challenge or issue we hoped to respond to was the loss of community, felt by students, due to these unforeseen circumstances. A loss of general morale and spirit had occurred, and we hoped that when all students returned to their school setting, they would be able to regain the sense of community they once had. This ultimately boosts their sense of connection, self- esteem, and self-regulation to enhance overall mental health.

Thus we applied for the FYA Youth Action Project Grant Scheme to fund our idea to address this issue and were successful. Our idea was finally going to become a reality. What we wanted to do was to create a mental and physical wellbeing mural promoting self care tips for the school community. To respond to the problem identified, our idea was to collaborate with the school community, particularly the students, to create and place the community mural which would be placed outside the front office so that everyone could view the mural as they passed by. We hoped to put smiles on the school community’s faces as they entered school each day.

We initially collaborated with school staff to work out the measurements and location of the mural. Consequently we asked the student body to submit their design proposals as we wanted the mural to be purely designed by us, the youth of the future!

Our project ended up being delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns in 2020-2021. Our task of obtaining community feedback including well-being tips,inspirational quotes and the mural design ideas were put on hold due to the pandemic. As a result, much of the consultation with the Student Voice and Leadership Team was conducted via online meetings, digital surveys or delayed until we were back on site.

We came into contact with a professional mural artist who helped turn out ideas into a masterpiece in early 2022. Hence, we were able to begin the physical aspect of our project and began painting the mural with the help of students and a mural artist.

The day that we painted the mural became one of engagement, positivity and joy. Together the KDC students and the mural artist worked together to incorporate the multicultural and inclusive aspects of our school onto a blank canvas to ultimately paint a multifaceted and colourful representation of our school.

We learned a lot throughout the process including how to effectively communicate with the team and also how to manage and plan a successful project. The school was so happy with the outcome of the project and the mural will stand proudly in our school for many years to come.

Our project impacted the whole school including staff, students and teachers. One of our school priorities was to increase the school morale by promoting well-being. Hence, through the project, we were directly able to address the school’s goals. The mural displayed at the front office will be a bright and colourful display that each person sets eyes on as they walk to school. Thus, adding to the overall positive atmosphere on the school grounds. The themes of multiculturalism and well-being integrated into the mural showcased the diversity of our school whilst also giving advice to individuals about mental well-being tips to improve their everyday life. The mural also depicted children of various physical abilities to embody and represent the various students.

I want to thank Sebastian Franz for all his help with the mural. This plan was in the talks with him from early 2021 and he really helped us turn our vision into reality.

The students who helped in the design, initiation and production process of the mural included Nerasha, Buthmini, Kelly, Bella, Koko and Kayla. I would also like to thank the teachers leading the student voice team, Ms Caitlin Turnely, Mr Daniel Portelli and Ms Tanya Lane for their support along the way and assistant principal Daniel Mc Ferran and staff Paul Leeder and Amanda Lock for their help with the installation of the mural.

Finally, I would like to thank Ms Monica Garcia Ives (Acting Leading Teacher: Community Engagement) alongside Binusha Pathirana the initiators of the project for their endless hours of dedication towards helping create the mural. Especially Ms Garcia Ives who dedicated her own time to organising all the staff and students involved with the project and for her back to back communication to get the project going.

(written by Imarsha Pathirana, edited by Binusha Pathirana)

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