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.
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.