Stormbirds is a small group education program based on the belief that grief is a normal response to change, loss and uncertainty that often results from natural disasters. Children, young people and adults benefit from learning about how natural disasters can impact their lives. As part of the Seasons for Growth suite of programs, Stormbirds provides an opportunity for participants to learn the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to understand and respond well to such experiences.
The program is called 'Stormbirds' after a bird of the same name (also known as the eastern Koel). These birds are believed to foreshadow coming storms by their calls, fleeing to safety and only returning when catastrophic events have passed.
The Stormbirds program creates a safe space for children and young people to practice new ways of thinking and responding to change and loss following natural disaster events. The program is child-centred and evidence-based, relying on research and learning processes that are consistent with high quality psychosocial education. It has a sound curriculum structure incorporating a range of age-appropriate activities including writing, drawing, discussion, stories and music.
Children’s learning is largely generated through these activities and the conversations that emerge from stories shared, questions asked, skills learned and friendships developed. Professionals attend training in Stormbirds to deliver the program to children and young people in their schools, health and community organisations.
"The most important thing I learned in my group was how to cope with change, adapt to change and find new ways to deal with change."
Stormbirds participant, six years old
A trained Companion facilitates all programs, providing a safe and creative way to explore feelings, memories, loss and grief.
Flying back to life
The sighting of a Willie Wagtail bird signals life in Omeo is slowly returning to normal after the bushfires.
Giving children and their families the time and a safe space to heal
A school counsellor and Companion explains why she is part of the program and how it teaches that the journey to healing takes time.