Connection is a big part of our community at Sunshine Heights Primary School. It is both our heartbeat and superpower, and it's what drove us to create this mental health festival in the very beginnings when it was a tiny seedling.
Know Yourself, Show Yourself, Grow Yourself Mental Health Festival is about exploring the breadth of connection.
The past two years have wreaked havoc on our capacity to connect, leaving many of us feeling estranged, disconnected or isolated. We have been unable to connect to family, to friends, to community, to the things we love and which bring us joy, and in many ways, even ourselves. Pandemic life has also hindered our ability to connect to services that can help us thrive. The barriers that were already existent for some may have also become bigger, and harder to scale, leaving a gaping whole in our eco-system, or our ability to ask for or access the help we may need.
The festival is a direct response to this - a way to rebuild those connections, to reconnect community, and to tear down some of the barriers that we stand in the way of us knowing ourselves, showing ourselves and growing ourselves. The community outpouring of support is evidence of our desire to connect.
Through the festival, we are bringing together community in vast and varied ways, helping people to form new connections both to themselves and to others. We are also bringing together services who ordinarily operate alone, allowing the opportunity for them to network and build connections for possible future pathways.
Connection has continued to drive every part of the delivery of this festival in ways that surprise even us. Like the members of the community advisory committee who selflessly put their hand up to be a voice for their community and help shape the festival in immeasurable ways. Or the organisations that have reached out wanting to get involved and connect to the community through participating in the program or holding a stand at the community block party. Or the businesses who have thrown products into the arena for competitions because they, too, want to connect. Or local makers, musos and food trucks wanting to get involved because they have a personal connection to the area, to the stories of mental health or to one of the other beautiful parts of life and this festival. There's been joyous moments in meetings where the FLOW is high. Galvanising in fact.
The connections are everywhere and their grounding and elevating all in the one breathe.
Connection didn't just help birth this festival, it's given it a heartbeat and a life beyond what was ever imagined.