A Christ­mas tree made of Christ­mas boxes

Dubbo Photo News - - Emergency report - By JOHN RYAN Com­ment by JOHN RYAN

EACH week, stu­dents from Kinder­garten to Year 6 at Dubbo South Pub­lic School pass through Alexan­dra Prince’s class­room for mu­sic and drama lessons but it’s not just a cul­tural learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for them, there’s a very real em­bod­i­ment of com­mu­nity.

“There is a sign at the front of my class­room which says ‘Our pur­pose is to help others’,” Mrs Prince said.

“Ev­ery week, no mat­ter what the les­son, we al­ways find a way to bring this idea into what we are talk­ing about.

“With this pur­pose in mind, chil­dren have been en­cour­aged to take ac­tion and make a difference to the lives of others less for­tu­nate than them­selves,” she said.

One of the ways in which the stu­dents have taken ac­tion is by sup­port­ing the Christ­mas Box pro­gram for a num­ber of years, and the num­ber of boxes do­nated is grow­ing each year.

In­side each box are gifts that in­clude: some­thing to love, some­thing to wear, some­thing for school, some­thing for hy­giene and some­thing to play with.

“Chil­dren are en­cour­aged to write a per­sonal mes­sage and are also able to choose the age of the child the present is for,” Mrs Prince said.

Once all the boxes are col­lected, a school han­dover assem­bly is staged where a huge Christ­mas Tree is built, us­ing the Christ­mas Boxes, so the stu­dents can see that each box counts and is part of the big­ger pic­ture.

She said each box has been thought­fully and care­fully packed for a child who has never re­ceived a Christ­mas present in their en­tire life.

“We as a school com­mu­nity have con­trib­uted 289 Christ­mas

presents this year, this is a re­sult of us work­ing to­gether – chil­dren, teach­ers, sup­port staff, par­ents, grand­par­ents, and the chil­dren, grand­chil­dren and friends of the staff at our school,” Mrs Prince said.

“It is a won­der­ful pro­ject to teach chil­dren the im­por­tant les­son of think­ing of others as well as ap­pre­ci­at­ing and valu­ing the life we have.

“It pro­vides our chil­dren life­long lessons in kind­ness, gen­eros­ity and grat­i­tude, and the smiles on our kids’ faces know­ing they have made a difference to some­one else is truly won­der­ful,” she said.

WHILE kids at South Dubbo Pub­lic School get a good dose of learn­ing how to care for others less for­tu­nate, thanks to the ded­i­ca­tion of in­di­vid­ual staff mem­bers, in Den­mark em­pa­thy train­ing for school stu­dents is part of the na­tional cur­ricu­lum.

The United Na­tion's (UN) World Hap­pi­ness Re­port ranked Den­mark among the hap­pi­est coun­tries from a field of 155 na­tions. It's been in the top three for the past seven years and ap­par­ently the big­gest fac­tor con­tribut­ing to Den­mark’s record is the ‘em­pa­thy hour’ they ob­serve in their schools.

Since 1993 all Den­mark schools ded­i­cate one hour each week to Klassens tid, where stu­dents of from ages six to 16 have to at­tend this fun­da­men­tal class fo­cused on em­pa­thy.

Stu­dents work on being more em­pathic which helps them build bet­ter re­la­tion­ships and be more suc­cess­ful later in life, and it also helps pre­vent bul­ly­ing in schools.

Lead­ers across this happy so­ci­ety main­tain the im­por­tance of em­pa­thy and be­lieve teenagers es­pe­cially can greatly ben­e­fit from em­pa­thy classes as kids can of­ten de­velop nar­cis­sis­tic traits at this age.

The em­pa­thy classes en­cour­age stu­dents to dis­cuss cur­rent prob­lems they face in their school or per­sonal lives, and by shar­ing with their class­mates and teacher they then try to work out po­ten­tial so­lu­tions based on that shared lis­ten­ing and un­der­stand­ing.

A huge Christ­mas Tree was built us­ing the Christ­mas Boxes do­nated by Dubbo South Pub­lic School stu­dents. PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

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