Best of Friends program to run at the University of Wollongong in 2018

Dr Noelene Weatherby-Fell (front) from UOW’s School of Education with Dr Kimberley O’Brien and Leonardo Rocker from Quirky Kid Clinic. Picture: Aristo Risi
Dr Noelene Weatherby-Fell (front) from UOW’s School of Education with Dr Kimberley O’Brien and Leonardo Rocker from Quirky Kid Clinic. Picture: Aristo Risi

The social and emotional needs of school-aged children is the main priority of a new education program being delivered at the University of Wollongong from early 2018.

The Best of Friends® 10-week program will be held at UOW’s Early Start in Term 1 and 2 next year, with a group of final year Bachelor of Primary Education pre-service teachers as trained facilitators.

At the same time, UOW researchers will undertake an independent evaluation of the program.

The program developed by iAccelerate resident Quirky Kid Clinic, is designed to be delivered in schools by teachers and school counsellors, and is aimed at children aged 7 to 11 years.

“The Best of Friends program helps students gain the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, show empathy for others, develop and maintain friendships and make good decisions,’’ Quirky Kid Clinic CEO and principal psychologist Dr Kimberley O’Brien said.

Dr Noelene Weatherby-Fell from UOW’s School of Education will be undertaking a research collaboration with the Quirky Kid Clinic under the NSW Department of Industry’s TechVouchers program, evaluating The Best of Friends® program’s efficacy and shaping its future development.

The Quirky Kid Clinic has offices in Austinmer and Sydney, but is a resident of UOW’s iAccelerate program, the university’s purpose-built business incubator at UOW Innovation Campus.

Dr O’Brien said having access to the entrepreneurial ecosystem and support has sharpened the company’s focus and opened the doors to using new technologies to amplify the impact of its programs.

‘’The Best of Friends is Australian-made and aligned with the curriculum,’’ she said.

‘’This study will greatly advance research and practice in relation to what really works when it comes to building social and emotional skills in Australia.’’

The Best of Friends program is currently calling for participants, and parents are invited to find out more and to register their interest online at http://bof.quirkykid.com.au/research