What does place-based collective impact look like on the ground and what are communities doing to engage citizens in improving outcomes for our children?
The Collaborative Table at collective impact community initiative Go Goldfields had some special guests this month, in the form of larger-than-life message bears named Hugs and Cuddles.
Hugs and Cuddles the message bears are the heroes of the ’30 days of Loved and Safe’ campaign launched during Children’s Week. The campaign is the brainchild of Opportunity Child partner community Go Goldfields: Aspiring & Achieving.
Sandra Hamilton, Acting General Manager, Go Goldfields, shared this story:
The Loved and Safe campaign is all about making sure kids in the rural Victorian community of Maryborough feel loved and safe, which we identified as a factor of particular relevance for all children in our community to thrive.
The bears have proven to be a great conversation starter, ice breaker and have truly changed the energy wherever they go.
Hugs and Cuddles are making appearances throughout the Victorian Central Goldfields Shire this month, accompanying local police officers to a Salvation Army Supported Playgroup and dropping in at an Early Years Forum, where they met many Early Years Educators and Service Providers.
As well as many school visits, the bears spread the Loved and Safe message at big community gatherings such as the local health district AGM. Many organisations were represented at this meeting, all with very important roles and responsibilities to keep children #LovedandSafe. The cheeky bears made a visit to the K-mart Wishing Tree which drew a large crowd and they even photo bombed some official photo shoots!
The bears have injected what is a serious message with warmth and fun. A new Loved and Safe message is being shared every day across Go Goldfields’ Facebook, Twitter, Instagram platforms and at gogoldfields.org.
We know that thriving kids have all the material basics they need. They are loved and safe, healthy, learning and actively participating in a community filled with aspiration and hope, where they are deeply valued and their voices are heard. These children and their families also have access to positive, supportive systems and environments (The Nest ®, the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth’s -ARACY’s- national plan for child and youth wellbeing).
Children that are loved and safe are more confident, have a stronger sense of self-identity and have higher self-esteem. They also are more likely to form secure relationships with family and friends and are more resilient.
The bears are a fun way to reach out to families and service providers to remind everyone to put children first. We know that if we can enable these kids to thrive, they’ll grow into thriving adults. That is our bold goal.
“…our little people were very excited and remembered the key words, ‘everyone needs to be loved and safe’ – Primary School Principal
The campaign is being supported by daily broadcasts on Goldfields FM, through the networks of local schools and Early Years organisations and the Maryborough District Advertiser.
The next steps will be to evaluate the campaign and share our learnings with our Leadership Table and partners.
We set out to raise awareness about what children need in order to thrive, to really make sure that enough of us in the community begin to understand that. We have spent time working with our sector and using collaborative approaches and we are now generating and harnessing the energy across the community.
We are mobilising the community, the conversations are starting and people are beginning to ask ‘what does it look like’.The campaign continues and our hope is that it will generate lasting impacts for the children in our community.
About the author
Sandra Hamilton is Acting General Manager, Go Goldfields in the Victorian Central Goldfields Shire