Sparklers was developed in response to the impacts of the Canterbury earthquakes on children and young people.

We received widespread reports of children's emotional and behavioural issues at home and school, including children acting out, showing insecurities and worries, and not sleeping well (often while relocating) and these issues were reinforced by local research findings.

Conversations about supporting children and young people’s mental wellbeing started late in 2014. The School Based Mental Health Team, the Health Promoting Schools Team at Community and Public Health (both from different parts of the Canterbury District Health Board) and counsellors at Hillmorton High School were keen to develop a resource for teachers and other professionals working in schools to support children.

Around the same time, the Canterbury Earthquake Appeal Trust (CEAT) Greater Christchurch Parenting Support Package was developed. The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) proposed that social service agencies work collaboratively to support parents in post-earthquake Canterbury. The CEAT Parenting Support Package involved the All Right? campaign delivering a parenting campaign with the Schools Based Mental Health Team, Community and Public Health and Pegasus Health. Three projects known as the Whānau Wellbeing Collaboration were developed by three subgroups within the collaborative project team.

  1. Sparklers
  2. The Whānau Effect
  3. Pacifically Speaking

The Sparklers development group was committed to working in a strengths and evidence-based way at a population level. It was really important to create an accessible resource for all children, rather than just for more ‘difficult’ children. Research shows that all children can benefit from learning early about managing wellbeing, emotions and relationships.

Initially it was thought the Sparklers resource could be developed similar to the Tiny Adventures packs (now an app), as simple ideas for parent and child play times. However Sparklers began to develop differently and emerged as a digital classroom resource of wellbeing activities aligned with the New Zealand education curriculum for year 1-8 students.

Sparklers took over two years to develop from those first discussions about concerns for child wellbeing in post-earthquake Christchurch. It has been tested in over 50 schools in Canterbury, with very positive feedback.

Sparklers was launched on 20th June 2017 at Kaiapoi Borough Primary School. In the 6 weeks following the launch, there were over 10,000 Sparklers page views on the All Right? website, with widespread interest from teachers. User comments are regularly integrated into the activities to improve their interface and usability. Sparklers continues to be actively developed and a full evaluation with schools is planned for late 2017.

Sparklers was born to help tamariki live brighter! We hope you agree.

Meet the team!

Anna Mowat BA (Hons)
Family Advisor, All Right? Campaign

Anna has a passion for parents and children. She began her career in this field with SKIP (Strategies with Kids, Information for Parents) and joined the All Right? team in 2014. She also works as a facilitator of the Incredible Years programme for the Ministry of Education and currently working alongside the Auckland University and CDHB looking at a design approach for a technical intervention to help children with behavioural and emotional regulation issues.

Anna Thorpe PhD
Health Promoter, Community and Public Health, CDHB

Anna convened the wider Whānau Wellbeing Collaboration project through which Sparklers was developed. Anna has a background in social work, community development and health research, working in health promotion for Community and Public Health, at the Canterbury District Health Board. Anna is also mother to two large teenage lads.

Lesley Dixon
Pukenga Atawhai, Maori Mental Health Specialist, CDHB

Lesley has worked with children, youth and adults for 25 years. Her great passion is bringing healing to people who have been through traumatic or stressful experiences. Lesley comes from a Māori world view and believes no single approach is right for one individual. Sparklers, Matariki Calendars, Whānau Cards and Hikitia Te Ha are examples of positive approaches for tamariki and whānau

Ciarán Fox
Mental Health Promotion Strategist, All Right? Campaign

Ciarán Fox has been working in health promotion since 1993. In that time he has worked in community development, youth health, arts advocacy, events, governance and social marketing. He has been with the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand since 2008 and specialises in the areas of programme design in positive mental health, wellbeing, social marketing and education.

Kaye Wolland BSocSci, PGDipPP, MSc, MSW App
Registered Psychologist, School Based Mental Health Team, CDHB

Kaye has a background in child and adolescent mental health, child development and child protection having worked in both the public and private sectors. Kaye initially commenced her career as a social worker and then clinical social worker prior to training as a Psychologist. She has worked with children, adolescents and families for over 20 years.

Michelle Cole
Registered nurse, School Based Mental Health Team, CDHB

Michelle supports schools in rural North Canterbury from Kaiapoi to Kaikoura. Michelle started the journey to develop a wellbeing resource for schools in 2015 when the schools she was working with expressed a need for support with students experiencing anxiety in the Canterbury post-quake environment. Michelle is currently undertaking a Masters thesis in wellbeing in the context of the school environment.

Paula Partington BA (Hons), MSc (Dist), CTA, PTSTA
Registered Psychotherapist, School Based Mental Health Team, CDHB

Paula has worked throughout Canterbury schools offering workshops for our young people, parents and school staff focusing on resilience, anxiety and well-being. Her background is in psychotherapy, psychology and counselling and has worked both in the UK and in Christchurch with children, adolescents and their families over the past 25 years. She also has experience of working in residential social work and special needs education.

Sue Turner BA, Dip Tchg
Manager, All Right? Campaign

Sue has a background in teaching, community development and mental health promotion. Her previous roles include regional Management of the Mental Health Foundation and the Ministry of Youth Development as well as management of the Information, Communities and Health in all Polices teams at Community and Public Health.

Bringing Sparklers to life!
McCarthy Design and Make Collective

The Sparklers brand was (lovingly!) developed by Make Collective and McCarthy Design — branding, design and digital advertising agencies based right here in Christchurch, New Zealand. The agencies share a passion for doing good work with good people, and love contributing to projects that make people and communities stronger. They create brands, websites and campaigns on a national level, and have been closely involved with All Right? since 2013.

Massive thanks to the many kind people who contributed to the development of Sparklers, in particular the teachers who enthusiastically answered our questions, and to Riccarton Primary, St Albans Primary, Breens Intermediate and Lyttelton Kidsfirst Kindergarten for allowing us to photograph their tamariki and schools. We receive many compliments about these warm, bright images and absolutely loved meeting your fantastic students and teams.