URSTRONG Workshops

In 2018, MLC School implemented URSTRONG’s GirlPower Friendship program, which is dedicated to guiding young students through the rollercoaster of friendships and relationships at crucial stages of their lives.

Developed in 2009, URSTRONG is a curriculum that ‘teaches children a common language for confidently managing conflict and creating a culture rooted in respect and kindness’ (urstrong.com). Students are taught what is normal in a friendship and how to overcome obstacles in their relationships with peers.

On Thursday 14 June 2018, URSTRONG founder and childhood friendship expert, Dana Kerford spoke to students and parents from Pre-Kindergarten to Year 6 about the simplicity of conflict management. Dana established URSTRONG through her own background in teaching, after identifying the ‘intensity and complexity of friendships for young girls’ (urstrong.com). Dana’s ‘head on’ approach, which encourages students to directly face any friendship issues they may experience, outlined techniques and phrases for students to use when dealing with conflict.

‘Healthy relationships are at the heart of wellbeing and we are so grateful to partner with MLC School to embed our school-wide friendship strategy. Research shows that whole-school programs are the most effective; starting with our parent-child workshops was the perfect way to introduce a common, consistent approach to the girls, parents, and teachers. We look forward to continuing to empower the girls with skills and strategies to create healthy, feel-good friendships and a culture of kindness at MLC School’, says Dana.

Students and parents took part in a variety of activities throughout the evening, from fun role-play with teddy bears to practising how to put out ‘Friendship Fires’, or conflict resolution, by voicing their feelings. Dana talked the girls through four key friendship facts:

• No friendship (or relationship) is perfect
• Every friendship is different
• Trust and respect are the two most important qualities of a friendship
• Friendships change and that’s okay

Year 5 student, Erin, says, ‘My favourite part was acting out all the different friendship scenarios’, while Zara from Year 1 enjoyed Dana’s teaching methods: ‘Dana is a very funny lady. I really liked going to the workshop with my mum’.

Each activity was designed to introduce strategies for parents to support their daughters and for students to speak up when they feel uncomfortable in their friendships.

‘Learning to deal with ‘Friendship Fires’ is an important part of every girl’s life and developing these skills at a young age will set them up for success, not only in primary education, but secondary school and beyond’, says Mr Daniel Sandral, Head of MLC Junior School.

Establishing and maintaining healthy friendships is essential in developing student confidence and inner strength, and staff in the MLC Junior School are thrilled with the introduction of URSTRONG to our Pastoral Care program. Teachers will implement a program called ‘Friendship 101’ which has been designed to cater to the individual needs of students and to be taught at the teacher’s own pace.

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