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Reading the Play on the Mental Health Crisis

Reading the Play on the Mental Health Crisis

Jasmin Pedretti

Jasmin Pedretti

Journalist

Reading The Play on the Mental Health Crisis

by Ponderings Radio

Reading the Play on the Mental Health Crisis

‘Read the Play’ is a mental health awareness and wellbeing program, specifically aimed at kids between the ages of 14 and 16. 

The program is presented at football and netball clubs and fuses fun with education. Games and jigsaw puzzles create a conversation and a safe space where kids can ask important questions.

We sat down with David Langley, chairman of ‘Read the Play’, to talk about the growing mental health crisis, how he created a movement, and what he has learnt along the way.

What is ‘Read the Play’s’ back-story?

As the community director of the Kempe Group, I wanted to change the Kempe sponsorship model and one way of doing this was to create a youth program and through the process ‘Read the Play’ was born, initially teaching kids about alcohol and illicit drugs and it was delivered by parents after an 8 training session with the first program running in 2007.

After running this model for several years, I wasn’t happy with the numbers and parents weren’t comfortable answering questions about topics surrounding mental health. Words like depression, anxiety and schizophrenia were popping up.

 

A new model/program was developed around a games night that would deliver the questions easier. We changed the philosophy to be more about mental health, and professional clinicians were engaged to deliver the program. 

 

The next year we doubled our numbers. We went from around 650 to over a thousand, and then gradually went up to 4,500 kids overall, across Victoria.

 

How successful are the results?

Deakin University is doing a two-year review program. They’ve already done one year. I can’t tell you the results but they indicate we’re making a significant difference. After the second year’s complete, we will have documented proof/evidence that we are making a difference in the communities we work in, which will allow us to present to government for funding. Even though we have great sponsors we require ongoing funding to ensure the stability and viability of the program long-term.

What makes people in business want to support something like this?

It’s for kids. Also, mental health touches 1 in 4 people; it’s everywhere we look. It’s not a hard sell. Some people don’t get it, and I can’t understand that. Mental health issues have touched my family network, maybe that’s the key to getting it. 

I get blown away at times. I get emotional because people are so good, I get angry, because of the people that would rather give money to a club to buy beer which fuels the problems ‘Read the Play’ aims to prevent.

What are the specific components you have learnt about creating a movement like this?

I didn’t realize when I started ‘Read the Play’, how big the problem of mental health was. I think that has staggered me but also been my drive. I’ve realized, we could be helping a lot more kids. So, passion is one component. 

The other is having a great group of dedicated staff and volunteers on board. 

Growth is hard to contain, so we’ve had to change our structure and work out how we can do better.

How do you envision the future of ‘Read the Play’?

‘We’re developing the program for under 17-year-olds, which will focus more on youth suicide and safe partying/driving etc. 

People in Melbourne are interested in what we’re doing and want to run it in their areas. 

Ultimately, my vision is to get to as many places possible across Australia and continue to develop a very professional program. 

I’m chuffed when I look back at the number of stories where we have helped kids. We can’t stop. We need to keep the momentum going.

There were moments during this conversation, where Mr Langley’s eyes would well up. Youth suicide rates continue to sky-rocket, and too many kids suffer from depression or anxiety. Mr Langley and his ‘Read the Play’ team are on a mission to change this. The program’s success is proof that an idea, once put into action, can become a movement that creates phenomenal change. 

 To be a part of the ‘Read the Play’ journey click the link. 

KIDS HELPLINE – 1800 55 1800
LIFELINE – 13 11 14
HEADSPACE – 1800 650 890

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How to Survive a Day in Sydney

How to Survive a Day in Sydney

How to Survive a Day in Sydney

by Ponderings Radio

Jasmin Pedretti

Jasmin Pedretti

Journalist

How to Survive a Day in Sydney

My boss took my colleague and I to Sydney for the day. 

 

I should’ve been excited but was shrouded with apprehension. If you’re the type of person who shouldn’t leave the house without body armour and your belongings strapped to your chest, you will understand why.

This is how the day unfolded.

 

10:00 am: For the first 15 minutes of The Rocks Walking Tour, our Swedish tour guide discussed the First Settlers arriving in Australia without a single mention of the brutal massacre of the Indigenous people. Hmmm…

We also wanted quirky stories. We wanted to know about the man who was chopped up and shoved down a fireplace. We wanted to know about the rumours and the whispers of vulgarity and vice. Instead, we endured two hours of dry historical facts. We watched Playing Beattie Bow for crying out loud. 

12:30 pm: Pasta at The Grounds, surrounded by 1940’s décor, made up for it. We decided to hold off on dessert and wait for the highly-anticipated scones at our next stop.

2:15 pm: Sitting at the Chinese Garden of Friendship Teahouse, my heart was full, until everything began to derail. For starters, there were no scones because the Teahouse was under new management. Feeling sorry for myself, I saw Kirsten frantically searching her bag. Her notebook that held a manuscript forged over years was missing. We headed straight for The Grounds.

4:20 pm: Kirsten jumped out while Cassidy and I waited in the Uber. Suddenly, the driver pulled back onto the road and started driving off, heading for the airport. I panicked and tried to explain that we had to wait for Kirsten to return. He couldn’t do a U-turn, and we couldn’t call Kirsten because we had her phone. I called up The Grounds to warn Kirsten not to panic when she saw we had left. Once we returned, she got in the car and asked, “where did you find it?”. The woman I had spoken too at The Grounds thought I’d said we found the notebook.

5:30: Waiting for our flight at the airport, Kirsten somehow held it together. I kept her camera equipment underneath my chair.

 

6:30 pm: During the flight back to Geelong, despite the exhaustion and devastating end to the day, we delved into topics like religion, third dimensions and reincarnation. Although we had different beliefs, there was no judgement, just a mutual appreciation for the wonderful complexities of life.

 

8:00 pm: When everyone exited the plane, I realized that Kirsten’s camera equipment that I’d been carrying throughout the day was gone. Kirsten assured me it was ok, but it wasn’t. I called up the Sydney Airport lost property and was asked: “is your name, Kirsten?”. Nearly crying from relief, we staggered out of the airport.

We flew to Sydney to uncover its secrets. Along the road to finding these secrets, we were bored, disappointed, and lost things, but ultimately gained a bond more precious. A beautiful friendship was forged between a wordsmith, an actress and a journalist. I learnt that the best part of a trip isn’t the destination, but the relationships you form while you’re there, especially when shit happens, which it always does.

Perhaps the most important lesson was that you should never get too excited about scones. Missing out on those guys is a kind of disappointment no one deserves to experience.

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Mindfulness: Journey From Blue Eyed Barbarian to Medical Marvel

Mindfulness: Journey From Blue Eyed Barbarian to Medical Marvel

Mindfulness: Journey from Blue Eyed Barbarian to Medical Marvel

by Ponderings Radio

Jasmin Pedretti

Jasmin Pedretti

Journalist

Mindfulness: Journey From Blue Eyed Barbarian to Medical Marvel

Are you a master of your mind, or does the thought of mindfulness send you cross-eyed and thought twisted? 

What exactly is mindfulness? Is it enveloping our minds in a eurythmic cocoon of self-awareness and safety? Or is it juicing up the old think tank in a new way? We ponder the medical marvel and its history, while talking with mindfulness expert Dr Craig Hassed, Monash University Professor.

 

The most tragic myth is that mindfulness is easy; you simply sit down, breathe, think, and hum. The truth is, it can be challenging and does not need to be practiced while meditating! Essentially, mindfulness is being aware of one’s thoughts and feelings in the present moment and accepting them without judgement. This can be done at any time; while you eat, walk or even complete chores. Meditation and yoga are merely ways to nurture and expand mindfulness, as it encourages sincere concentration.

Overtime, this ancient religious practice has become the fastest growing health trend in America, with an estimated 200–500 million people meditating worldwide.

Its story begins in the 6th century, when Bodhidharma, an Indian monk known as “The Blue-Eyed Barbarian” arrived in China to teach a special teaching not-written in the scriptures because the teaching is impossible to transmit by words. 

The teaching was Zen, which focuses on achieving enlightenment through meditation.

“What is ultimately behind (Zen), is the annihilation or transcendence of your identity as an individual, and access to non-local, super personal, consciousness,” says Russell Brand, comedian turned human advisor and Luminary Podcaster. There can be no doubt that mindfulness has the power to give anyone a new lease on life.

The 1800s Gold Rush introduced Zen to the western world when Chinese migrants travelled to countries in search of gold. Deep-rooted racism prevented acceptance of Buddhist rituals by the mainstream until, of course, they were whitewashed 100 years later.

Monash University Professor, Dr Craig Hassed, told us, “When the first studies on the benefits of Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy came out in 1999, it sparked exponential growth in the research and application of mindfulness.”

Dr Craig Hassed goes as far as to call it “an antidote to the modern world.”

The Monash University professor says, “[mindfulness has] many useful side effects such as reducing stress, enhancing performance, improving mental health, enhancing communication, and fostering prosocial attitudes and emotional intelligence.”

Russell Brand addresses the involvement of modern science in his video, ‘Is Mindfulness a Con’. He says, “the people that came up with meditative techniques, that [modern scientists] are now proving to make your brain waves all groovy and lower your heart rate, already knew [the benefits]. They knew without access to the physicalized technology that demonstrates the efficacy of these techniques.”

In other words, Neuroscience didn’t make meditation ‘better’; it just validated what Buddhists had already known for millennia.

Mindfulness in the western world today, is a hybrid of Zen and the rituals and beliefs of Indian and Chinese Taoism.  The practice has been secularized and become a ‘trendy fad’.

However, the health benefits are irrefutable, and it’s effectively awakening the minds of individuals.

Studies have shown that after meditating for 6–9 months, almost two-thirds of those prone to anxiety manage to reduce their anxiety levels.

Mindfulness has come a long way. From sacred teachings, to medical marvel, to commodity sold by meditation apps and retreats. By acknowledging the origins and its true purpose, mindfulness has the power to create more awakened people.

 

If you would like to learn more about mindfulness, Monash-FutureLearn collaboration is providing a free online mindfulness course. The next one goes live on October 7 and is ranked as one of the world’s top online courses.

 

 

 

 

 

Will the #lifegoal meet the #reality?

Will the #lifegoal meet the #reality?

Will the #lifegoal meet the #reality?

Will the #lifegoal meet the #reality

by Jasmin Pedretti and Melbourne Social Media

by Jasmin Pedretti 

Life goals vs reality.

A phrase we see bouncing around the insta-phere is life goals. So, what is the ultimate life goal? For some, it might be climbing the Eiffel tower, for others it might be running with bulls, but with some of us at Ponderings, it is just finding a hobby that we like. So, we have decided to search for a hobby. Will the #lifegoal meet the #reality?

Japanese forest bathing.

First of all, we have the Japanese art of Shinrin-yoku, described in Professor Yoshifumi Miyazaki’s book ‘The Japanese Way of Forest Bathing for Health and Relaxation’. And we put it to the test.  

 Jasmin told Kate that they would be dabbling in the art of Forest Bathing. She got quite a shock when she found Kate wrapped in a pink, velvet dressing-gown with a matching shower cap, holding a giant rubber duck. Kate thought this attire would be suitable for bathing, little did she know there was no water involved.

Jasmin tried to show her how to connect with nature, relish in the healing power of trees and immerse herself in the forest atmosphere.

While Jasmin’s stress slowly depleted, she looked over at Kate, only to see that she was playing with her rubber duck. There was more quack than luxe. Let’s just say someone ended up with a splinter somewhere we shouldn’t mention.

Crocheting

Life goals vs reality. A phrase we see bouncing around the insta-phere is life goals. So, what is the ultimate life goal? For some, it might be climbing the Eiffel tower, for others it might be running with bulls, but with some of us at Ponderings, it is just finding a hobby that we like. So, we have decided to search for a hobby. Will the #lifegoal meet the #reality.

 No longer the past-time for nifty-nanna’s, and according to most reputable hipster clubs, the art of crocheting is now a funky past-time for millennials to master. 

 Jasmin could not wait to learn how to create a beautiful rug of her dreams. She watched as Kate seamlessly thread yarn through a stick. She nodded enthusiastically as Kate showed her the technique, her nimble fingers expertly looping and interlinking, slowly creating an intricate masterpiece. How hard could it be? Finally, it was Jasmin’s turn. 

To this day, no-one knows what happened. Quicker than a clove hitch at a Scout camp, Kate was presented with a twisted, tangled, terrified Jasmin.

Who knew that baby-pink wool could be so menacing. Is knitted shame a thing?

Maybe we should check in with Brene Brown.

Got a cool hobby? Drop us a comment on our Facebook Page with a pic of your latest achievement! 

 

 

 

 

 

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Meet The Mother Who Turned Grief Into A Refuge For Kids

Meet The Mother Who Turned Grief Into A Refuge For Kids

Meet The Mother Who Turned Grief Into A Refuge For Kids

Deborah Saunders experienced a mother’s worst nightmare when her son was killed in a tragic car accident at age 17.

She recalls how the press bombarded her family, and mainstream media reported misleading articles. Everyone deserves a chance to tell their story. Here, Deborah explains in her own words how she coped with her son’s death and has healed her broken heart by looking after children.

 

The Barnardo’s Mother of the Year VIC 2019, has raised four children independently and fostered countless teenagers. She has devoted her life to providing young people with a home, a safe space and a chance for a better life. Deborah’s guiding light has saved those who have found themselves travelling down a dark and troubling path. Her home has been a place of protection and nurture.

 

Children, entrenched in a world of drug and alcohol abuse, in an endless cycle of poverty, full of uncertainties such as when or where they will get their next meal, yearn for the love and stability that Deborah provides. The number of children dependent on this support continues to rise. 

 

The latest figures from the Australian Institute of Family Studies have shown that the number of children in care has risen in Australia by 18% from 2013 to 2017.

Winning Mother of the Year has in no way affected her humility. Throughout our small chat, Deborah oozed motherly compassion and a determination to help kids that need it.  

 

What would you say is your biggest passion?

I think the rights of young people. Definitely. The rights of dignity and respect. Some of the young people I work with don’t have housing. They’re living in poverty and experiencing drug and alcohol abuse, childhood abuse. The worst part is it just keeps going. It doesn’t get addressed. There’s no healing, so that’s my job. 

 

Has there been an experience that inspired your passion for helping foster children? 

I think it was my childhood. I didn’t realize it at the time, of course, but it was a bit rough. I think also being a young person growing up in poverty, and then being able to reflect on actually how tough it is for these kids. I was one of the lucky ones because I had a family. Also, my kids would always bring friends home. We ended up with some staying, and these moments would help me reflect on how fortunate I was. 

 

What advice would you give to women who feel inadequate as mothers?

Be kinder to yourself. It’s tough to seek help but don’t be too proud to do it. My mum used to tell me, take it one hour at a time, if you can’t manage a whole day, break it down. 

 

Would you rather live in a treehouse or a cubby house?

A treehouse. 

What is your favourite book?

The Outsiders. It’s an old one, but it’s one of the first books I read.

This book may have shaped Deborah’s passion for the plight of the troubled youth.

The Outsiders is known as being an authentic depiction of teenage struggles since a 15-year-old actually wrote it. It is a story of children deprived of love in the pursuit of redemption. Aiding this pursuit is what provides Deborah with purpose every day.

 

Her daughter refers to her as the strongest woman in the country.

In 2009, her 17-year-old son Jack died instantly in a car accident. 

When asked about Jack, Deborah wants people to know that he was more than just a statistic. He was the glue of the family. He lobbied for his right to wear a mohawk when he was told to get rid of it in year 8. Jack was intelligent but also social and fun. He read a lot, could not abide bullies and questioned everything from the time he was little.

 

“I know all mothers think their kids are special, but Jack had a presence, he was larger than life and had a charisma that attracted all sorts. He could talk to anyone. I miss our long talks the most.”

Jack came to Deborah one Sunday morning and told her of a dream he’d had. The angel Gabriel had come to collect Jack, telling him he needed to go and help him save young people. The two of them laughed it off.

 

Deborah remembers how perfect the weather was the day her son died. Jack entered a car to try and intercept a fight and help a distressed boy. This mistake cost him his life as both boys died instantly. Jack was found to have a low alcohol reading, yet the media went on a rampage reporting a story of “drunken hoons”. It made the agony of losing her boy unimaginable. 

Denied the chance to see her son, Deborah felt she might have been able to save him.

 

“I still feel in my soul, that if they’d let me see Jack, I may have been able to bring him back. I think it’s a mother thing.” 

Deborah still cries. She still feels overwhelmed by grief and misses Jack with every breath. She was not alive or awake for the first twelve months after losing Jack. Losing a child is the loneliest thing on earth. 

“I can’t imagine what Jack would be doing for a living now, or even what he’d look like. It’s too painful. I tried writing to him, but it’s too hard, I talk to him all the time and especially at bedtime. Losing Jack has changed me.” 

 

However, Deborah knew she had to put one foot in front of the other to keep a roof over her other children’s heads.

 When faced with the devastating anguish of losing a child, Deborah has not allowed adversity to trump her soul. 

 

Horrifyingly life-altering and debilitating grief has brought Debra to her knees and yet within this, she has forged healing and a sense of peace through helping other kids and being of service to those that need love and stability in their lives.

She has put the pieces of her heart back together and offered it to those in need.

We salute this beautiful woman and can only ever hope to look to her and her story of her family and her beautiful Jack for inspiration and courage. 

 

 

We acknowledge the people of the Kulin Nation, on whose unceded sovereign land we work. We pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging.

The Barbaric Truth About Hair

The Barbaric Truth About Hair

The Barbaric Truth About Hair

Journalist Jasmin Pedretti

Getting your hair done is one of life’s simple pleasures. It might even cost an arm and a leg, and every other limb for that matter, but who needs limbs when you can experience the hairdressers? 

How delicious is it to be pampered and then leave with a transformed head of hair and a renewed sense of pride. The only flaw to this experience is that the products often used are tried and tested on animals who could not give a damn about your pretty new do. Do we care about their limbs? Their skin or pain? Bear with me here, as we unpack and get educated. Do you dare to read or listen?

The hair industry doesn’t want consumers to know the truth, and many consumers don’t want to know either, because it’s gruesome and distressing. Ignorance is very much bliss. But the truth is what it is.

Getting your hair bleached isn’t the same merry experience when you’re picturing a rat being bleached to death or a rabbit having their eyes painted with dye. Having your scalp massaged isn’t as nice when you’re picturing a confused little mouse forced to endure excruciating pain as he is burned alive. What happens when a mouse is injected with lethal doses of chemicals? Convulsions and seizures, usually a slow death. What happens when toxic substances are slathered onto a baby rabbits raw skin, or poured into her scared little eye? Blindness, swelling, and hemorrhaging.

We don’t know if mammals feel pain the same way humans do, but we do know they experience it. Marc Bekoff, evolutionary biologist, says that mammals share the same nervous system, neurochemicals, perceptions, and emotions, all of which are integrated into the experience of pain.

Killing animals for food is one thing for many, torturing them for beauty is a whole other level of cruelty. Our furry friends have the right to live WITH us, not FOR us. 

How could I leave the salon with pride, knowing what was sacrificed for my silky strands?

If this bothers you too, then there are alternatives. 

Choose Cruelty Free Ltd. provides Australian consumers with a list of companies that are humane and ethical. Consumers have access to the information they need to decide according to their moral standards. The freedom to make this choice is crucial.  

Successful business owner, hairdresser and owner of Jomara Hair Studio, Mariesa Lauder, stocks her salon with a brand that is on this list. De Lorenzo is an Australian-made brand that is organic and most importantly; cruelty-free. 

Mariesa says, “there is no need to torture animals for beauty. We’ve got the technology to test products by other means. Testing on animals for luxury is an unnecessary form of cruelty. DeLorenzo test on humans that volunteer.”

In recent years, the torch has shone on the make-up industry, exposing cosmetics that test on animals; whereas hair products have been left in the dark. Mariesa says that the hair industry needs an urgent shakeup because far too many people are using hair products that contain chemicals tested on animals. 

 

In fact, according to the Humane Society, 500,000 animals suffer and die each year as a result of cosmetic testing, and a Yahoo report says that 80% of countries still allow for it to happen. Clearly, it’s a huge issue that needs urgent attention.

De Lorenzo is also Australian made.

Why is this important? Because quite simply- buying Aussie made products supports local jobs and our economy. 

Ben Lazzaro, the Chief Executive of the Australian Made Campaign Ltd. explains why it is so important to buy Australian made. 

“When you buy Aussie-made and grown products, you know what you are getting—products from our clean, green environment made to the highest of manufacturing standards. At the same time, you are supporting Australian businesses and jobs.”

In an industry that is saturated with products that are made by prodding, poisoning and killing helpless animals, don’t be blind-sided.

The truth is shocking, ugly, and downright distressing, but it’s happening, and you don’t have to support it.

Looking and feeling beautiful doesn’t have to mean sacrificing integrity.

Ultimately, it’s up to you. 

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Independent Media is critical; it means no large media giant is pulling our strings or dictating what we write. Ponderings provides an alternative to networked media, producing stories about issues of social justice and humanity; that might not otherwise be told. Some you will need no introduction and some you will be uplifted to find out about and be inspired by. This year, in particular, our lineup is going to delight and surprise you.

 

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