Resilience in Schools

Cool Connections in School (9-12 years)

Cool Connections is a well-being program for students in Years 5 and 6 that helps participants develop their personal strengths and better manage their mental health.

The objective of each program is to increase resilience, working with participants to build their confidence, develop their social skills and to create a sense of connectedness with others at school and in the community.

For further information read our Information Flyer

Cool Connections in School

  • 8 sessions of 90 minutes duration
  • 10-12 participants
  • Hosted at school, during regular school hours
  • Led by 2 trained and experienced facilitators, with a support teacher present
  • Includes an engaging mix of creative projects and group discussion
  • Weekly topics include personal identity, connection, safe places and people, problem solving and gratitude
  • Running in Central Coast schools since 2016


Y-Connections (11-14 years)


Y-Connections has been developed for young people in years 7 and 8 and is designed to build self-esteem and resilience through a range of creative, hands-on activities and workshop content that introduces essential life management skills.

Program format for Y-Connections is as follows:

  • 8 sessions of 90 minutes duration
  • 8-10 participants
  • Hosted at school, during regular school hours
  • Led by 2 trained and experienced facilitators, with a support teacher present
  • Includes an engaging mix of creative projects and group discussion
  • Weekly topics include personal identity, problem solving, relationships and emotions
  • Running in Central Coast schools since 2019

The program is applicable to all students but can be of particular benefit to those who experience issues such as social withdrawal, anxiety, difficulties with peer relationships, low school attendance, isolation, identity issues or disengagement.

Built around coaching, emotional intelligence and positive psychology frameworks, the aim of Y-Connections is to create a supportive space where ideas and stories can be shared, solutions-focused problem-solving skills are developed and new ways to view situations are discussed using a growth mindset to help build resilience.
At the end of the program, participants have gained a stronger sense of self as well as some effective tools and coping strategies to manage life’s challenges.

Benefits of Connections programs

Participants should emerge from Connections programs better able to: 

  • Solve interpersonal problems effectively
  • Relax and reflect in healthy ways (eg meditation, journaling, drawing)
  • Establish and understand their own personal values and identity
  • Identify safe people who support them
  • Recognise their own strengths and positive traits and those of other people
  • Regulate strong emotions

 These benefits may be indirectly shared with each participant’s family members, peers and teachers.

 Connections programs are evaluated at their conclusion, with ongoing refinements made based on feedback from schools and  facilitators. Teachers consistently report strong improvements in students’ self-esteem, confidence and classroom behaviour.

Why early intervention is vital

It is estimated that 1 in 7 Australian children experience mental health issues and approximately 50 per cent of all serious mental health issues begin around the age of 14. Preadolescence – from ages 9 to 14 – is a time of transition and change. Preadolescent children are maturing physically, emotionally and socially, whilst also taking on greater responsibility at school and at home. It is a vital stage in the formation of identity, values and attitudes towards the self and other people. Mental health support provided at this time can prevent young people falling into crisis or developing more complex issues later in life.

Our programs were developed in consultation with psychologists, art therapists and mental health professionals. The emphasis on creative expression reflects recent mental health research on the most effective ways to foster hope and self-confidence in young people. Studies suggest that engaging in art-based activities can help young people develop a sense of belonging and to cope with difficult feelings.

Connections programs introduce strategies to build resilience and open support pathways for children who need ongoing assistance.

Cool Connections in School is an accredited program against the Suicide Prevention Australia Standards, 1st edition. Assuring safety, quality and efficacy.

Cool Connections in School has been independently reviewed and is listed in the Be You Programs Directory. It meets the minimum evidence requirements set by Be You and has been awarded a rating for evidence and implementation.

For further information on any of our programs please contact Sue via email:

Thank you to our program supporters:

NSW Government Logo

Connections 2×2 Resilience Workshops

Many participants fostered new relationships with students they would not have naturally connected with…..The topics covered were relevant and necessary. Such a valuable program – thank you!

Jess Fares

Assistant Principal, Tuggerawong Public School

Though social distancing measures have relaxed, the mental health impacts of COVID-19 are still being felt by local families, especially those with children. Parents, teachers and community organisations are reporting widespread anxiety and disengagement. People are finding themselves in need of additional support, many for the first time in their lives.

To help address these additional needs, Iris Foundation has developed Connections 2×2 Resilience Workshops.

Program format is as follows:

  • 2 sessions of 2 hours duration, held over consecutive weeks
  • 18-20 participants in each group
  • Led by 3 trained and experienced facilitators
  • Includes an engaging mix of creative projects and group discussion
  • Week 1 session focuses on personal identity, skills, strengths and values
  • Week 2 session focuses on coping strategies, problem solving and gratitude

Workshops are currently being delievered in selected Central Coast primary schools and high schools. Workshop format can be readily adapted to the specific needs of any group.

[The workshops] explore and teach students a range of strategies that can be applied in moments of hardship and normalise emotions that can be difficult at a young age. This is a truly special program and worth its weight in gold.

Anika O’Brien

Teacher, Wyee Public School

Thank you to our workshop supporters:

To find out more about workshops, please contact:
Sue Liptrott

Desired Impact

The Cool Connections 2×2 Workshop aims to increase each participant’s resilience by:

Boosting self-esteem and confidence: Young people engage in creative projects that encourage them to explore their own identity, values, unique gifts and positive personal qualities.

Connecting isolated young people: Participants meet in a relaxed environment, supported by facilitators who are trained to manage strong emotions and personality conflicts.

Identifying strategies: Participants explore their feelings, thoughts and emotions that are linked to anxiety and stressful times and are guided through problem solving strategies.

Opening support pathways: The atmosphere of trust and safety created in each session promotes self-expression and allows participants to feel accepted without judgement. This facilitates appropriate follow-up care such as counselling referrals, discussions with parents and caregivers, additional classroom resources or referral to future Cool Connections in School programs.

Creating a positive ‘ripple effect’: Increases in confidence, connectedness and problem-solving abilities for participants often indirectly benefits their family, friends, teachers and the community.

I have worked alongside the facilitators in two workshops and I’m so impressed with how they engage the students! They were able to challenge the participants to believe and to think about themselves in a more positive manner.

Lorraine Watson

Teacher, Lisarow Publix School

[My daughter] really enjoyed being part of the workshops and took away some great positives from it. We are seeing her trying to implement these strategies at home. Thank you for including her in the program.

Parent feedback

Narara Valley High School