Recently a member of a Facebook group for Queensland teachers shared their experience of something that I believe is incredibly powerful.
I was so impressed with what they had done that I reached out and gained permission to share their story.
Jaelene and Michael Durrand of Atherton State High School in Far North Queensland noticed that the bathroom used by their female students was less than ideal. They took it upon themselves to upgrade the bathroom while the students were away from school during the first couple of weeks (our government decided to extend the student’s holidays by a couple of weeks, and teachers were expected to work during this time).
“Last year, it was identified by many students that their obligation to respect the facilities of the school did not match the presentation of those facilities. My colleague and I were a bit taken aback to see the state of these facilities (we assumed they were roughly in the same state as staff toilets), and… proposed the upgrade of these facilities – to make them a wonderful place that our female students feel comfortable, supported and respected.”
Imagine being a student at a school with staff who care so deeply that they wanted to make the TOILETS a nicer place?!
“Designs were specifically targeted at discouraging behaviours that were occurring such as bullying, cyber-bullying, graffiti, self-harm and suicidal ideation; while enabling self-reflective encouragement and positivity. The facilities are now adorned in specifically chosen colours, with 21 quotes from various women throughout history chosen for their inspirational, aspirational and/or beautiful messages. The back of the stall doors are blank, to cater for sensory concerns with students, there are Banksy-inspired depictions of freedom and self-worth and the introduction of a “Carewall”.
This Carewall is stocked with sanitary items: pads, tampons, deodorant, underwear, socks, lip balm toothpaste/brushes and more for students to use as they need. While this shelf will in part be stocked by corporate and government donations and programs, the sign to the left of it states “These items have been donated to you by the staff… in respecting your needs as young people. Please take as needed while respecting the needs of others.” We have placed a box in the staff space in the library for staff to donate such items if you wish to do so. As most teachers buy stationery and other supplies as part of grocery shopping, we are asking that you consider buying some items, especially if they are on special, to add to this fantastic support for our young people. As you know, these purchases can be documented to lessen your tax liability (the ATO now has a fantastic phone app that simplifies this process), it is a fantastic way to be a part of the solution… and when many of us contribute, the resulting support will be a fantastic help to not only ASHS students, but also the culture of care and respect that is developing at this school.”
I mean, wow. I was absolutely blown away. At first by the incredible artwork that has stemmed from a truly deeply caring place. AND THEN to read the story behind it, it gives me the warm and fuzzies. I absolutely ABSOLUTELY congratulate these education professionals and this school for this incredible display of care.
The boys’ bathroom makeover is planned for later in the year!
Has your school done similar? Let us know in the comments below or over in our Teacher Community!