It’s the simplest things can so often be overlooked, so an innovative program aimed at promoting an attitude of gratitude is being rolled out across Sydney Catholic Schools.
In an Australian-first, the program called Snapshots: Discovering God in My Day is being introduced in primary schools during Terms 3 and 4. It will reach more than 27,000 families across the Sydney Archdiocese.
Latest research has found that if people actively try to become more grateful in their everyday lives they are happier and healthier, so the new program is aimed at recognising the everyday gifts God gives in even the busiest lives.
Piloted at Pagewood’s Our Lady of the Annunciation Primary School last year and led by the Family Educator, the program was such a success it is now being rolled out across the network.
Each family is given a kit containing snapshot cards with an outline of a blank polaroid photo to write the moments they discovered God in their day, a family prayer and a toy camera keychain for families to use as a reminder to take the snapshot.
Families are encouraged to find time either over a meal or before bed to share the moments when they experienced God during each day and then record them on the cards to make their snapshots. Anything from seeing a sunrise, to a hug from Dad or spending time with a best friend, moments are recorded and displayed both at home and taken to school to be shared with classmates.
Family Educator team leader Meredith Lemos said the initiative was designed to provide opportunities to become more aware of God’s presence in every aspect of daily life.
She said it also encouraged parents to engage with their children through a fun, meaningful and prayerful daily ritual. Busy parents who often find themselves distracted on technology in their downtime were reminded to tune into those special moments found in every part of everyday.
“The success of the initiative lies in the opportunity it provides, of being aware of and awake to a loving God who is with us in every moment of our lives – the extraordinary, the ordinary and also the challenging,”’ she said.
“Having a child actually acknowledge unprompted they feel God when hugging their Dad or experienced an amazing time with God by sitting with their mum on the lounge watching a favourite show really is such a beautiful thing to happen.
“It’s allowing not just the students but their families to recognise the beauty around them and that relationship with God.
“It’s simply mindfulness at its best. Research on the benefits of mindfulness are clear. Living in the moment makes us better people. It allows us to enjoy and appreciate what we have, and even more importantly, be thankful to our God for it.”
Miranda’s Star of the Sea Primary School has implemented the program this term and is already singing its praises.
Principal Rose Andre said Snapshots had been a wonderful building activity for both the children and their families to share their faith journey.
“The children are so much more aware of God’s presence in their lives, at times you can hear them saying that God is present in their day to day activities,” she said.
“It has deepened the children’s faith and helped them articulate how and where God is present in their lives and that God is with them always.
“Having Maria Carr as our Family Educator is such a positive aspect to our community and school, she helps families and children make their faith real through personal experiences.”
Maria agrees the initiative and the Family Educator role is not only a way for families to connect with their faith – but also with each other.
“It really doesn’t matter what a family does – so long as they do it together,” she said.
“Hearing kids stop and appreciate the little things is so rewarding. Seeing them notice nature, or the little things their parents do for them or even be thankful for their siblings is such a lovely thing.
“Sometimes in all the busyness, families forget THEY are the most important things in life, it’s what they do together that makes it so special and Snapshots is aimed at making both children and adults alike aware of what’s around them and what they have to be thankful for.”