BOOST­ING BODY POS­I­TIV­ITY

Q. What is your back­ground with the But­ter­fly Foun­da­tion? Q. What will school lead­ers and teach­ers get out of your talk? Q. How can th­ese strate­gies tie in with the cur­ricu­lum? Q. Do you have any ad­vice to teach­ers who no­tice neg­a­tive body im­age be­hav­iour

The Australian Education Reporter - - THE NATIONAL EDUCATION SUMMIT - EMMA DAVIES

The na­tional not-for-profit But­ter­fly Foun­da­tion rep­re­sents all peo­ple af­fected by eat­ing dis­or­ders and neg­a­tive body im­age. Man­ager of Ed­u­ca­tion Ser­vices Danni Row­lands will be speak­ing at the Na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion Sum­mit about ways ed­u­ca­tors can help their stu­dents ad­dress body im­age is­sues. Q. What is your back­ground with the But­ter­fly Foun­da­tion?

I’ve been at the But­ter­fly Foun­da­tion for 11 years and as I have a lived ex­pe­ri­ence, my area of in­ter­est is pre­ven­tion and build­ing the re­silience and pro­tec­tive fac­tors in chil­dren and ado­les­cents.

I’ve been work­ing to de­velop our whole com­mu­nity pro­gram and school based work­shop ses­sions that pro­vide sup­port to young peo­ple di­rectly, to pro­fes­sion­als – be it ed­u­ca­tors and well­be­ing teams – and also parental sup­port.

We pro­vide con­sis­tent and rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion so peo­ple feel bet­ter in­formed and un­der­stand what they can do to im­prove the body im­age in young peo­ple and also im­prove healthy eat­ing and ex­er­cise be­hav­iour.

Q. What will school lead­ers and teach­ers get out of your talk?

Body im­age is a re­ally com­plex is­sue and I think a lot of peo­ple triv­i­al­ize it, think­ing it’s just about van­ity. How­ever, the re­al­ity of what neg­a­tive body im­age is, and the im­pact that it’s hav­ing on young peo­ple is quite pro­found.

Schools are see­ing first-hand the con­se­quences of stu­dents with neg­a­tive body im­age who are dis­en­gag­ing from class­room dis­cus­sions, not putting their hand up be­cause they don’t want to draw at­ten­tion to them­selves, ap­pear­ance based-bul­ly­ing, young peo­ple who are dis­en­gag­ing from sport, and even [the ad­vent of] diet clubs or com­pet­i­tive di­et­ing be­hav­iour among friend­ship groups.

The aim of the ses­sion I’m de­liv­er­ing will be a snap­shot of what neg­a­tive body im­age is and why is it some­thing that we need to com­bat, as well as dis­cussing what schools can do to pos­i­tively sup­port the healthy de­vel­op­ment of body im­age, eat­ing, and ex­er­cise be­hav­iour.

Q. How can th­ese strate­gies tie in with the cur­ricu­lum?

We know first­hand that schools are over­loaded – we see the is­sues and prob­lems that young peo­ple are fac­ing and many teach­ers are con­cerned about how to sup­port stu­dents.

They’re trained in be­ing ed­u­ca­tors; they’re not trained to be coun­sel­lors or well­be­ing co­or­di­na­tors.

From our per­spec­tive it’s very much about pro­vid­ing prac­ti­cal strate­gies that can be implemented within the school cul­ture. For ex­am­ple, the strate­gies align with school val­ues, bul­ly­ing, and teas­ing poli­cies to take into ac­count the statis­tics that 70 per cent of bul­ly­ing in schools is ap­pear­ance-based.

We’re try­ing to help teach­ers in the class­room to be aware of the lan­guage that they use, be aware of what pos­i­tive role mod­el­ling looks like, and how can they ac­cess cur­ricu­lum that they can eas­ily in­sert into what they’re al­ready do­ing.

Q. Do you have any ad­vice to teach­ers who no­tice neg­a­tive body im­age be­hav­iour in stu­dents?

We en­cour­age peo­ple to call the But­ter­fly Foun­da­tion Na­tional Helpline (it’s free, con­fi­den­tial and has lots of re­sources) so teach­ers can have a con­ver­sa­tion around what they’re notic­ing and what they’re see­ing.

Of­ten teach­ers no­tice be­hav­ioral changes in the class­room; the stu­dent en­gag­ing or not en­gag­ing, with­draw­ing, or friends might come to the teacher to say they’re con­cerned about some­body.

There are men­tal health first aid guide­lines for eat­ing dis­or­ders which pro­vide ex­ten­sive in­for­ma­tion on what to do if you’re con­cerned, and early in­ter­ven­tion strate­gies. But ob­vi­ously teach­ers need to contact their well­be­ing team, talk to the prin­ci­pal, and if it’s a pri­mary school aged child talk to the par­ents.

Teach­ers can call the helpline to talk about any con­cerns they have, dis­cuss strate­gies on how to have a pos­i­tive con­ver­sa­tion to the per­son or their fam­ily, and help to en­sure that the per­son can get the treat­ment and sup­port that they need.

Q. How can schools nav­i­gate the neg­a­tive body im­age trends on so­cial me­dia?

It’s about em­pow­er­ing young peo­ple so they’re aware of how they’re feel­ing when they’re us­ing so­cial me­dia – be­ing aware of im­ages, pro­files, pages, or peo­ple that are trig­ger­ing them into feel­ing not great about them­selves of their body.

I will be cov­er­ing th­ese strate­gies in my ses­sion but it’s im­por­tant to en­sure young peo­ple are fol­low­ing peo­ple or pages that make them feel good.

If some­one feels trig­gered they will com­pare them­selves, and un­for­tu­nately it plays out in their be­hav­iour. They may be over ex­er­cis­ing, or pat­terns of be­hav­iour with their food and the way that they dress may change.

We en­cour­age teach­ers to help stu­dents be self-aware and em­power them­selves – block­ing peo­ple that don’t make them feel good or un­fol­low­ing pages and en­sur­ing that there’s di­ver­sity in their feed. What’s shown on so­cial me­dia is a high­light reel, not the real deal.

Danni Row­lands is speak­ing about Strate­gies to De­velop Body Con­fi­dent Young Peo­ple at the Na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion Sum­mit on Satur­day the 1st of Septem­ber at 9:15am.

But­ter­fly’s Na­tional Helpline ED HOPE (1800 33 4673) is Aus­tralia’s na­tional eat­ing dis­or­ders sup­port ser­vice and is open 8am to 12am AEST, 7 days a week (ex­cept na­tional pub­lic hol­i­days).

“What’s shown on so­cial me­dia is a high­light reel, not the real deal.”

Ed­u­ca­tors con­cerned about body im­age or eat­ing dis­or­ders in their stu­dents are en­cour­aged to call the But­ter­fly Foun­da­tion’s Na­tional Hot­line on 1800 33 4673.

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