Stories - November 17, 2022
Tocumwal community benefits from Kimochi program
A unique program using soft plush characters has helped improve the wellbeing of children in the Tocumwal region.
The characters are called Kimochis (pronounced Key.mo.chee), which means ‘feeling’ in Japanese and they are used as a social and emotional learning tool.
Each character has a different personality and temperament, just like all children. They have a favourite food, number and colour, but most of all they all have feelings that define their personalities and behaviour. Children learn emotional vocabulary and simple strategies to cope with challenging social moments.
The team at Intereach delivered the Kimochi program in Tocumwal as a means to help control difficult emotions and challenging behaviours in school and at home.
The program was initiated after concerns there was not a universal understanding of feelings and their meaning. There was an identified need to create children who were more resilient, connecting to others, more proactive and overcoming challenging situations, as well as a desire to include adults.
Intereach used the Kimochis to engage with pre-schools and primary schools, as well as partnering with the library to make Kimochi resources accessible to everyone.
Intereach went to the schools, working closely with each teacher around expectations, wants and needs for each individual group. Individual syllabuses were created for the needs of different schools and year levels, being Preschool, Kinder, Year 1 and Year 2.
The six-week Kimochi program was used to help both children and adults gain a greater understanding of emotions and feelings, while helping to control difficult emotions and challenging behaviours, aimed at making every child happier and better adjusted. It helped develop resilience, connecting with others, being more productive or overcoming challenging situations.
The Intereach Family and Mental Health Services team, which delivers the program, was delighted with the way in which the community came together to work on the core understanding of feelings, developing a more universal language by children and adults when communicating around emotions and feelings. Parents and teachers saw the children beginning to correlate their behaviours to emotions they were experiencing, or what others around them were experiencing.
Whereas there had previously been behaviours in children that were leading to challenges at home and in the classroom, the Kimochis program brought about changes that were needed, and support for many adults to help explain and identify hard feelings. Participants built a rapport with Intereach and its team members, and also reached out to other services provided by the organisation.
One participant said: “We have seen such a positive reaction to the children and improved behaviour in a majority,” while another comment was: “Parents, teachers and families have been able to use the resources to help understand the needs of children and gain an insight into their feelings.”
If you would like to know more about the Kimochi Program, please call the Intereach Families team on 1300 488 226.
Intereach has 17 offices across southern NSW, north/central Victoria and Mallee, with more than 460 staff.
We support children and families, older people, people living with disability, mental health and carers. If you, or someone you know, needs support you can contact the Intereach team on the toll-free number 1300 488 226, or go to www.intereach.com.au.