That funny giraffe Healthy Harold and his friends are helping struggling and isolated kids during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Home schooling can place extra stress on families that may also be dealing with the pressures of reduced work and income, leading some parents to reach for the wine bottle or cigarettes more than usual.
Housebound kids are potentially being exposed to drugs and alcohol, family conflict and they’re spending more time online, which increases their risk of online bullying and abuse.
Healthy eating, good sleep patterns and regular exercise may have also gone out the window.
During the statewide lockdowns, Life Education ‘giraffe tamer’ Kial Malone from Currawang, says teaching children healthy habits has never been more important.
He says families can now access an online wellbeing program hosted by Healthy Harold and his team.
Designed for primary school children, 10 online lessons include topics such as cybersafety, healthy eating, physical activity, safe and respectful relationships, safe use of medicines and responsible decision making.
Kial usually hangs out with Healthy Harold at local schools – from the Southern Highlands in the north, through Canberra and south to the Snowy region – but this year he’s taking his message online, even starring in a number of the virtual lessons.
A lot of families are finding it difficult to keep their kids engaged while learning at home and Kial says the online modules have been designed to be fun as well as educational.
“While the disruption of face-to-face learning has presented its challenges, it has also provided families with a unique opportunity to engage in their children’s learning,” he said.
“Our online modules are a great balance of education and entertainment which is something Life Education has always prided itself on.
“Not only is Healthy Harold someone that kids can look up to – pun intended – he also brings a sense of nostalgia to their parents.”
Kial says being involved in the online lessons has offered him an exciting and new way to engage with kids.
“I was lucky to be involved in bringing these modules to life – it was an amazing experience,” he said.
“Life Education gave me a licence to be creative in writing and directing, and I am super proud of how they turned out.”
Kial believes he has one of the best jobs in the world and has embraced the opportunity to be a positive role model and to create fun, lifelong memories.
He says he’s missing being on the road, but he’s keeping busy playing music and looking after his animals on the farm.
“Harold and I are looking forward to visiting our students when school returns,” he added.
Families can subscribe to all of the online modules for $20, while disadvantaged regional schools can apply for free access via the Healthy Harold Scholarship Fund to ensure all children have an equal opportunity to the watch the classes.
Check out the Life Education website to access the lessons.