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I'm Saying Goodbye

Imagine the feeling as an educator opening your emails to find this as a subject heading?

In 2015, these four words were enough to motivate Sophie Sparks to change the landscape of bullying and inclusivity by creating these five little words that change lives, “YOU CAN SIT WITH ME.”

Sophie is an inspirational educator who had the courage to make a decision to be part of the solution to support primary students suffering from bullying or discrimination.

I was fortunate enough to be invited to the “YOU CAN SIT WITH ME” fund raiser lunch in Perth. I was curious to understand how the program worked in schools and how I could help promote it.

We all have some experience with students being ostracized for being different. And those students find it particularly difficult during break times.

That time of the day when students should be playing and having fun, but for the “different” students, it is about filling in time before returning to the protection of the classroom.

Like any human, we just want to feel, valued, accepted, safe and heard - VASH. And this is where a simple yellow band wearing student can change the day for a fellow student feeling, unvalued, unaccepted, unsafe and unheard.

The yellow band is an identification of safety and trust. It is like the Red Cross of the playground. The words inscribed on the yellow band say it all, “YOU CAN SIT WITH ME.” What a kind invitation from one human to another.

The registered charity is being used in over 900 schools Australia wide and I believe it would be worth viewing the website and making contact to have this simple and easy to implement program introduced into your school.

But like all processes, the logistics need to be understood and the educators onboard.

Ask yourself some questions:

Would this program complement our existing inclusivity initiatives?

Who is going to be the central driver?

What is the vetting and training program for student volunteers?

There is a wealth of information about the program on the website, however you know I am against increasing workload. So, something needs to be less of before this can be more of.

“YOU CAN SIT WITH ME” is a fantastic program that empowers volunteers and supports students needing an understanding friend.

In the words of Molly Meldrum, “Do yourself a favour and check out the information.”

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