Friends for Life Program
I am writing to give you some information in relation to the Friends for Life program that we are introducing to the children in your child's class next week in school.
The Friends for Life program is an initiative introduced to Irish schools by the National Educational Psychology Service. The program is designed for use with students in a school-based setting and is run by teachers who are trained in the Friends for Life program. The program is taught as part of the SPHE program. The aim of the program is to help young people aged 9-13 years to develop skills for emotional resilience and wellbeing.
This is a new Department of Education initiative, with limited availability for in-service for teachers in Friends for Life program. Our school is extremely fortunate to have teachers trained as ‘Friends for Life’ facilitators and they will deliver the Friends for Life program to your child’s 5th classes, weekly, for the next ten school weeks.
What is Friends for Life?
The Friends for Life program is an evidence-based, anxiety-prevention and resiliency building program, taught to children from 9-13 years.
Dr. Paula Barrett, founder of the Pathways Health and Research Centre in Brisbane, Australia, developed the Friends for Life program and it is now used in schools in over 20 countries.
This year’s program will be run over 10 weeks and may also be integrated into various parts of the curricula.
It is a social emotional learning program, where students learn life skills to cope with challenges now and in the future. Students identify feelings, explore ways to relax, build strategies to break down challenges/goals into manageable steps, build positive support structures and more.
Children will complete the Friends for Life Activity Book in school and at home. Parents are encouraged to chat with their child about their weekly engagement and learning in Friends for Life.
Friends for Life has a parent component, where parents are encouraged to reinforce FRIENDS skills by engaging and completing the home activities with their children.
Friends for Life has been recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an effective intervention for children that reduces the risk of anxiety disorders and builds resilience in children.
Supporting Parents to use the Program at Home
As we have already stated, there is a strong emphasis on developing home/school links in the program. Parents are actively encouraged to help their children use these strategies at home. I have prepared a short information video, which will give parents background information on the program and will also help parents support their children in using these strategies at home. I urge everyone to view this video.
The video can be found by following this link:
We are looking forward to implementing this program with your child’s class. It gives us a very real opportunity to promote important personal development concepts with our pupils, skills such as self-esteem, problem solving, self-expression, and building positive relationships with peers and adults. These very important skills will assist their development not only as children, but as they grow as young adults. If you have any questions about the program, please do not hessite to contact the school.
Thank you for your ongoing support,
29th March 2023