All children know about friendships, but it’s the healthy ones they need to be able to identify which could hold the key to long-lasting happiness throughout their lives.
And such is the importance of fostering healthy relationships, this week has been set aside to help primary school students recognise them through activities in schools, parishes and the homes of the Sydney Archdiocese.
Developed by CatholicCare, Healthy Friendship Week, from 21-25 February, involves communities engaging in a range of fun activities centred around building positive friendships.
Designed for children aged 5-12 years, the activities are linked to the Religious Education (RE) and Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE) curriculum outcomes.
Family Educator at St Anthony’s Primary, Marsfield, Annette Leahy said the program was vital for children to develop healthy relationships throughout their lives.
“The program can really help children learn who they are, their identity, love of themselves and to have positive true relationships,” she said.
“The activities can easily be done at home, where parents can utilise the opportunity to take some time to be present with their child and talk about the importance of positive friendships.”
“Good friendships are so important for their happiness and wellbeing, which is paramount in promoting strong healthy friendships in our community.
“The program is also important in showing children what makes an unhealthy relationship and how to avoid them.”
Healthy Friendship Week is the first step in CatholicCare’s Joy of Life program for the preparation, formation and support of marriage and relationships.
CatholicCare’s Pastoral Services Division executive manager Meredith Lemos said the beauty of the planned activities throughout the week is that children are learning how to know and grow healthy friendships, while having fun.
“The activities can easily be done at home, where parents can utilise the opportunity to take some time to be present with their child and talk about the importance of positive friendships,” she said.
“Recognising and understanding the qualities and characteristics of good friendships at this age is something that can then be applied to all relationships as they move into other stages of life.
“I am very grateful to have been able to work collaboratively with Dr Anthony Cleary, Director of Mission and Identity to have this initiative of the Joy of Love implemented in many Catholic primary schools across Sydney.”
Dr Cleary said Healthy Friendship Week comes as a great reminder of the value of being there for one another.
“Sydney Catholic Schools is very pleased to support Healthy Friendship Week which is a wonderful initiative and we are grateful to CatholicCare for developing the concept,” he said.
“I am also grateful to our primary schools who have excitedly jumped on board the initiative.
“One of the great challenges of our time is the way that people relate to each other … from birth to death relationships are at the heart of our very being.
“If properly formed they enable us to love others openly and genuinely and they also enable us to be open to being loved by others.
“Healthy Friendship Week is part of the Joy of Love, a framework for the preparation, formation and support of marriage and relationships in the Archdiocese of Sydney.”
“Healthy friendships strengthen our self-esteem and our sense of self-worth and they give us a real experience of truth, beauty and goodness.”
Healthy Friendship Week is part of the Joy of Love, a framework for the preparation, formation and support of marriage and relationships in the Archdiocese of Sydney.
It is a strategic approach that encompasses the formation of people of different ages and stages of life, in a Christian approach to relationships, marriage, family and sexual intimacy across the life-long continuum.
It is based on the understanding that marriage is a lifelong commitment and relationship, which requires preparation and ongoing support, beginning at Baptism and continuing for the years that follow the sacrament of marriage.
Iinitiated by Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher OP following Pope Francis’ call for ongoing formation for couples before and after marriage, it includes programs, courses and resources for young children, teenagers, parents, carers, post-school, engaged and married couples.
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