Breakthrough and the Little Heroes Foundation have come together in a charity-first to collaboratively help address this issue that affects not only children, but their families, friends, teachers and the wider community.

We must provide early intervention strategies and prevention that provides children with the tools to ensure their wellbeing and resilience as they get older. That’s where Big Talks for Little People comes in.

By working with Professor Phillip Slee and Dr Grace Skrzypiec, we have put together a mental health literacy program that consists of modules that teachers themselves can roll out. These modules are complemented with engaging animation as well as a Friendship bench where children can come together and talk about their issues.

DID YOU KNOW: A child’s friend is their first responder when they are dealing with a mental health issue. By opening up mental health conversations earlier – in primary school – and normalising them, we can break down the stigma and provide children with the resources to be better equipped when dealing with a mental health issue either for themselves or their friends.

By supporting the campaign, you are helping to offer this program free of charge in schools throughout South Australia and the Northern Territory. The second phase of the project will be to roll it out in sporting clubs, community clubs and wider throughout the country.

Jed Hickey, Director of JLP Construction made the benches as part of the pilot program.

If I can help with something that will provide my daughters with the opportunity to learn about these things at a young age, then I am more than happy to get behind it.”

Breakthrough ambassador Debbie Ryan is a huge supporter of Big Talks for Little People – including speaking on stage about its significance at the launch of the campaign late last year. Debbie lost her daughter Maddy to suicide when she was 23 following years of bullying.

“If Maddy had the resources available to her when she was going through this, things may have turned out very differently,’ Debbie says.

“Children need to learn how to support each other, how to be kind and to look after their own mental health.”

At the launch of Big Talks for Little People campaign, at the Little Heroes Melbourne Cup event last year, the Friendship benches were auctioned off as part of a fundraiser for the campaign. What started with just one up for auction, resulted in 11 being purchased, raising almost $17,000.

Alan Young of Baker Young purchased one of the benches to support his local community because he believes in “the more opportunities we have for young people” to discuss mental health, the more resilient they will grow up to be.

Executive Officer of SA Power Networks Employee Foundation, Vicki Shearer, presented Little Heroes and Breakthrough with a cheque for $15,000 towards the campaign. Vicki presented the cheque to John Mannion and Chris McDermott and spoke of how the program inspired the team at SA Power Networks.

The Big Talks for Little People campaign is so fortunate to also have the support of Harcourts Foundation behind the initiative. The Foundation has donated $5000 to the appeal earlier this year to support the building of the Friendship benches in the pilot schools across South Australia.