New arts and music program for Hunter students

A unique program that provides enhanced learning opportunities for disadvantaged children has been established in the Hunter thanks to a new partnership between The Song Room and nib foundation.

The Tuned in for Life program is assisting up to 120 children at The Kotara School, The Wakefield School and Shortland Public School who are faced with mental, social and emotional challenges that affect their school participation.

The Song Room Chief Executive Officer, Caroline Aebersold, said the 40-week, in-school workshop program will help increase the capacity of the Hunter region’s special education programs.

“Many of the program participants are disengaged from school. Their challenging behaviours often lead to suspensions, non-attendance and interrupted studies, which can decrease their chances of successfully completing their schooling and gaining future employment,” Mrs Aebersold said.

“Our specialist arts and music program helps improve their self-esteem, love of learning and resilience, resulting in enhanced social connection and school participation.”

With the Hunter region experiencing a relatively high proportion of early school leavers compared to the rest of New South Wales (52.5% versus 43.5%), nib foundation Chairman, Keith Lynch said the foundation saw an opportunity to support the implementation of the program locally.

“The Song Room’s targeted program helps fill a gap in transitioning school services for young people in our region, which will help reduce the number of early school leavers,” Mr Lynch said.

“We are proud to support this program that has been proven to lift student’s academic performance, attendance and wellbeing,” he added.

The program is already making an impact with Hunter teachers praising the early results.

“We are really enjoying The Song Room program and all students are having a great time. The joy on their faces as they participate has to be seen to be believed,” Mrs Janine Wilmott said.

“Coming from a musical family I always knew the joy and benefits of music; however this has still blown me away. Our children would never have had this experience if not for this program!” she added.