Kiwi kids to get helping hand with managing life’s challenges

Wednesday , 9 September 2020 by Susannah Walker

A programme aimed at equipping school children with tools to navigate life’s ups and downs will soon be available free of charge to any primary or intermediate school in New Zealand.

Southern Cross, New Zealand’s leading independent health and wellness provider, has joined forces with the Pause Breathe Smile Trust and the Mental Health Foundation.

As a result, the nation’s own locally designed and internationally recognised schools’ mindfulness programme is being scaled up and will be open to all school children aged five to 12 from October.

Developed at the Mental Health Foundation, the Pause Breathe Smile programme was launched in 2013 and has reached around 380 schools and more than 65,000 children to date.

Research* shows that Pause Breathe Smile increases wellbeing, reduces stress, boosts conflict resolution skills and enhances self-awareness.

PBS logo 280x300Southern Cross Chair Greg Gent said teaming up with Pause Breathe Smile was an opportunity to help build a healthier future for New Zealand children. “This programme equips children with the essential skills they need to help them navigate the ups and downs of everyday life.

Tangible difference

“Southern Cross has been looking for a way to make a tangible difference for New Zealand’s children for some time. We’re committed to helping to build a healthier future for all New Zealanders.”

The programme’s preventive approach and proven results made it an obvious choice, Gent said.

“Our not-for-profit ethos and focus on health and wellbeing mean Pause Breathe Smile is a great fit with Southern Cross.”

Research by Southern Cross** has found that 55 per cent of New Zealand parents are concerned about their children’s ability to cope with everyday life.

The Director of Mindfulness Training and Development for Pause Breathe Smile, Grant Rix, said the programme could now help thousands more children to build positive mind health.

"With Southern Cross on board, Pause Breathe Smile will be freely available to all primary and intermediate schools in New Zealand.

“That has been a long-term aspiration and to have Southern Cross helping to make a difference on such a large scale is incredible.”

Psychologist and parenting expert Nigel Latta said the wider availability of the Pause Breathe Smile programme was something he had been advocating for years.

“It’s never been more important for our young people to learn self-regulation skills, and so this is the perfect initiative at a really crucial time. The skills kids learn in this programme will benefit them for their entire lives.

“This isn’t just about how to deal with stress and anxiety, it’s teaching young people profoundly important life skills.”

Mental Health Foundation

The Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, Shaun Robinson, said the Foundation had decades of experience working for mental wellbeing in schools.

“Pause Breathe Smile is a key success arising from that mahi. We know from research that it creates fantastic outcomes for children and teachers and we are proud to work with Southern Cross and the Pause Breathe Smile Trust to make it available throughout Aotearoa.”

Pause Breathe Smile provides professional learning and development for teachers who deliver the programme in their classrooms and incorporate its practices into their teaching.

Pause Breathe Smile with Southern Cross will be available free to any primary or intermediate school in New Zealand from October 2020.

Expressions of interest in the programme from schools, teachers and parents can be sent to [email protected]

For more information, see the Pause Breathe Smile website here.

*Click for research studies here.

**Southern Cross Healthy Futures Report, 2020