Ok, let's talk about the giraffe in the room...
Healthy Harold the giraffe, who is synonymous with the Life Education van and program made his annual visit to Tewantin State School this week.
Life Education began 39 years ago and provides school our kids with health and drug education. The program helps more than 700,000 young Australians make healthy and safe choices every year. It teaches children ways to keep their bodies healthy and to equip them with the skills to make appropriate choices and a way of learning to stay secure in potentially unsafe situations.
It remains a not-for-profit organisation, which operates in close partnership with our local schools and communities and relies on student fees and local community funding to meet costs and that's where Bendigo Bank has helped to subsidize the program.
Through its sponsorship, the Tewantin Community branch of Bendigo Bank offsets the program costs that's professionally designed and based on extensive research. Life Education educator, Niki Andrinopoulos said she loves welcoming our local school kids to the high-tech mobile classroom.
This week, Niki was joined by manager, Kerri Wright for a photo with Harold and some Year 6 students who had just been through a session in the Life Education van.
"A lot of hard work went into raising the funds to buy our Life Education van and we can't thank our sponsors enough for their ongoing support," Niki said.
"Bendigo Bank know the importance of the Life Ed program and as many know, continue to support the project. In fact, ongoing annual funding plus the majority of the purchase price of the van has come from our local Community Banks. Without their support the program could not be subsidised and we wouldn't be able to educate so many children in the region," she said.
As a primary school teacher of 30 years, Niki will have traveled to more than 20 schools from Gympie to Coolum by the end of 2018 and around 8,000 children have accessed the program. Each session is presented by educators who receive specialised training in the areas of health and drug education.
On a local level, Life Education Cooloola-Noosa was formed in 1995 and from humble beginnings with very little backing the program is now seen as an essential component of every child's education.
"Having the van means children in our region now have access to the Life Education program. In the younger grades, we aim to teach children about their body and how it works. The aim of our senior classes is to help students develop a sound understanding of their body and well-being so they understand how special and truly unique they are. This visit, we focused on the dangers of cyber-bullying," Niki added.
The van will move onto Noosaville and Cooroy State Schools in the coming weeks and, rest assured, the van, Harold and Niki will be back again this time next year to do it all again. If you would like to know more information about the program, visit www.lifeeducation.org.au.