A fruity bunch of staff at a Cairns secondary school are sparking important conversations and a whole heap of fun.
Each Friday, more than 30 staff at St Mary’s Catholic College wear bright shirts covered in fruit to prompt discussions with students about their mental and physical health.
Dorian Carey, the Woree school’s Head of HPE and the creator of Fruity Friday, said the project had initially started as a simple way to teach students how a health diffusion strategy works.
The number of staff participants grew quickly from 15 to 32 in just a few months and shows no signs of slowing down.
“People walk into the HPE department, and everyone is in these shirts,” Mr Carey said.
“Everyone smiles and they say it feels happier and brighter.”
The project will also help to inform the school’s teaching practices and curriculum in years to come.
“We can use this to teach health diffusion to younger classes, because they’ve seen it in action,” Mr Carey said.
“It’s authentic and real to our students. They will understand it better than something they’ve just read about.”
Amoya Selsby, a senior Health, HPE and Science teacher, said she had witnessed firsthand the positive impact of Fruity Friday.
“One of my students had a really bad week and they said to me, I really like seeing you looking bright and happy. It made them feel better,” she said.
“And then they had a conversation with me and told me what their week had been like. The kids are much more open about talking about mental health because we’re in these shirts.
“It reminds them they that can talk if there’s an issue.”
Ms Selsby said the Fruity Friday shirts often made an impression in the wider community as well.
“When we go out on a Friday for coffee, people come and ask us about it,” she said.
“They love it.”
Other schools and businesses are welcome to get involved with the Fruity Friday initiative. Email Mr Carey on email@example.com more information.
Find out more about St Mary’s Catholic College here.