Bushfire Kids Connect’s new educational program is set to be rolled out across regional Australia in the coming months.
The program will focus on educating kids about how to prepare for bushfires, why they happen and their connection to the environment.
Founded by nine-year-old Sebastian Ascott and his mother Carly, Bushfire Kids Connect currently offers support to more than 100 families who were affected by the devastating bushfire seasons over the past two years.
A children-led organization at heart, the group aims to inject fun into the lives of kids as a means of coping with the trauma associated with bushfires.
“Community strengthens resilience,” says Carly of her motivation to start the group.
“(The kids) decided what they want to do. It’s not the adults’ job to tell the kids how they should process what’s happened.”
Sebastian was named the 2021 Young Citizen of the Year by the Adelaide Hills Council for his efforts to unite the community.
Adelaide Hills Mayor Jan-Claire Wisdom said at the award ceremony in January that, with the support of his mother Carly, Sebastian has run events that encouraged creativity, recreation, and building resilience.
“Sebastian’s home was saved by the CFS, but some of his neighbours and friends were not as fortunate, so Bushfire Kids Connect was his way of showing support to those children,” Mayor Wisdom said.
“He is now working with the Red Cross to develop a similar program that can be rolled out nationwide and connect children from our community with those in other fire-affected states.”
“He truly is a remarkable young man that we’re privileged to have in our district.”
Sebastian helped organise events such as a BMX jam, movie days and excursions to Bounce to bring the community together in an effort to support the mental health of the affected children.
Other organizations such as the Adelaide Hills Council, the Red Cross and Bendigo Bank have supported the group’s work.
The group has also been active in helping Hills families during the pandemic, especially during the lockdowns, by pointing parents to helpful resources on their Facebook page and delivering treats from Teresa Langmead, owner of She Baked.
In their 12 months of operation, Bushfire Kids Connect has organised events that not only encourage kids to enjoy themselves and make friends, but also provide opportunities for their parents to connect.
“What we didn’t realise, was that the parents were also talking and sharing their stories, and they all have very similar stories,” Carly says.
“We have seen beautiful friendships grow.”
This story is part of Solstice Media’s Regional Showcase series and awards program. Each week we will bring our readers regional news stories that matter as well as some inspirational tales of individuals and communities doing what country people do best – having a go.
If you have a tale to tell or know of one, get in touch at South Australian Regional Showcase.
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