At a time when any Year 11 student could be excused for being focused only on getting to know their teachers, subjects and a whole new educational culture, BSSC student, Dimity Curren, looked around and fundamentally felt empathy for those who—like her—find such transitions challenging.
Dimi is following in her mother’s and grandfather’s footsteps by coming to BSSC, but believes her choices are far broader than they experienced. She has grabbed one of those opportunities and dived in deep by joining a group of like-minded students in the Wellbeing Committee.
“I’ve struggled with anxiety and thought that getting involved with this group was a chance to help others, especially those who might be the only one from their 7-10 school or who have mental health issues,” Dimi says. “It’s also a great way to make friends and meet people with similar values.”
Dimi’s struggles with anxiety have led to a number of strategies that make a difference. She is inspired by the songs of Shawn Mendes.
“Especially his song ‘In My Blood’ which really encourages you to push on through.”
As well as listening to music, other anti-anxiety strategies that work really well for her include going for a walk, watching a movie, reading and spending time with her family.
“I actually avoid too much screen time but I do love a good movie—and that’s a relaxing strategy for me.”
The Wellbeing Committee is therefore a natural fit for Dimi. And as they work closely with the Wellbeing Team she hopes they will develop activities and a program that is both fun and involves a meaningful strategy—and lots of valuable and supportive information.
“So far it’s been about planning,” Dimi says, “but our first focus will be on healthy eating, which is vital for effective study and learning. Did you know there is a direct link between sugary drinks and a decrease in the capacity to learn?
“We also want to look at managing exam stress and one idea is setting up a meditation group. But we are open to all ideas. The main thing is that people make new connections and friends, get the peer support they need and learn some really helpful strategies. There are even app’s to help people with anxiety recover more quickly from a bad moment.”
Another thing the Wellbeing Committee hopes to contribute towards is Step-Up Week.
“We have realised that a buddy program could make a positive difference to Step-Up at the end of the year,” Dimi says, “so we’re going to work on that too. How good is it that BSSC actually has a Wellbeing Centre at the school! I think it’s incredible.”
The college has also provided Dimi with a sense of freedom and a flexibility she enjoys.
“It’s like I’ve been given the opportunity to learn in a way that works for me,” she says. “I feel that I’m treated as an adult and really appreciate the individual support teachers give me.
“I’ve joined the maths tutoring sessions and that’s been so helpful. I really cannot understand why every students doesn’t grab some of the opportunities offered here.”
Libby Fullard is Dimi’s teacher in Health and Human Development.
“This subject covers such important issues,” Dimi says. “So far we have explored the importance of a good diet. Our diets have too much processed foods and lack the vegetables and fruit that hold the nutrients we actually need.
“Did you know that one of Australia’s biggest killers is cardiovascular disease? And that it’s strongly related to diet? I am learning so much from Libby’s classes and am applying what I learn to my own life.”
Dimi’s BSSC studies are also influencing her concerns about global issues such as drug and alcohol use and climate change. Her plan beyond Senior Secondary is to become a nurse.
“My favourite subject is VET Allied Health taught by Sue Pickles,” she says. “It’s so practical and because most of the other students also want to work in health. It’s a great class.
“We also focus on other factors that are really important for all health workers such as communication skills and issues around equity and equality.
Dimi credits the inspiration to become a nurse to her Pa, who sadly died of melanoma two years ago.
“He said to me one day, ‘You’ve got the right nature to be a very good nurse’. I was already in awe of the wonderful palliative care nurses who were caring for him.
“So I’m already looking forward to a placement at the end of this year at Bendigo Health. I plan to study at La Trobe Bendigo and stay in the region.
And looking back? If Dimi could give her 12 year-old self some advice what would it be?
“Set realistic goals. Start thinking in Year 7 about what you might want to do later. Try to identify your passion and begin working towards it. Oh— and use your time wisely in class.
That’s good advice for us all!