Dol­phin project re­turns home

Hills Gazette (Kalamunda) - - FRONT PAGE - Lynn Gri­er­son

RIP­PLE the dol­phin is back home where she be­longs af­ter be­ing dec­o­rated by stu­dents from Gidge­gan­nup pri­mary for the Big Splash WA schools pro­gram.

Gidge­gan­nup Pri­mary School art teacher Cindy Wat­son worked with a small group of Year 5 chil­dren to paint the art piece for the Big Splash WA ex­hi­bi­tion at the Perth Con­ven­tion Cen­tre.

She said their dol­phin rep­re­sented in­clu­siv­ity, col­lab­o­ra­tion, em­pa­thy and, like a dol­phin, be­ing part of a com­mu­nity.

“The name Rip­ple re­minds us that ac­tions cre­ate a rip­ple ef­fect; small deeds and words af­fect many peo­ple,” she said.

Rip­ple fea­tures con­cen­tric cir­cles to rep­re­sent the in­di­vid­ual, fam­ily, school, com­mu­nity, the world and men­tal health aware­ness.

“We painted hearts on the wave to show that we can achieve great things if we are sup­ported by love, and the white dots show that we are all con­nected,” Ms Wat­son said.

The Big Splash WA dol­phin project pro­vided the op­por­tu­nity to ‘start the con­ver­sa­tion’ about child­hood men­tal health is­sues within the school com­mu­nity.

Ms Wat­son said men­tal health prob­lems adults may en­counter of­ten have their roots from when they were chil­dren, and by rais­ing aware­ness at school, she hoped early in­ter­ven­tion would cir­cum­vent later prob­lems.

Rip­ple’s new home in the school li­brary will con­tinue to raise aware­ness of the is­sue through dis­cus­sions with stu­dents, teach­ers and par­ents.

Big Splash came to WA through the Perth Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal Foun­da­tion to ad­dress an in­crease in young peo­ple with men­tal health is­sues and to let chil­dren know they were not alone, that it was OK to talk about feel­ings and con­cerns and that real help was avail­able.

Re­search shows four times as many young peo­ple present to emer­gency de­part­ments with men­tal health crises, in­clud­ing re­peated self-in­jury and at­tempted sui­cide, com­pared to five years ago.

For more in­for­ma­tion on the schools pro­gram, call 9489 1100 or visit www.the­bigsplashwa. com.au.

Stu­dents Char­lotte, Kee­ley and El­lie with Rip­ple the dol­phin sculp­ture dec­o­rated by stu­dents at Gidge­gan­nup Pri­mary School

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