Page 1


Seriously Optimistic Online Newsletter IR Home

Volume 32 - September 2009

Now available:

Can-Do Dinosaurs Here’s a cast of zany Jurassic characters to teach children some of life’s most important skills.

In this Volume... • Can-Do Dinosaurs - Jurassic skill-builders • New on the horizon • St Luke’s Spring School • Experiencing Grief and Loss • SOON mailbox • Symbols bring hope To contribute to SOON email us at:

St Luke’s Innovative Resources 137 McCrae St Bendigo 3550 Australia phone: (03) 5442 0500 fax: (03) 5442 0555 international (+61 3) go to IR home page

If you think of skills in terms of practical abilities, like playing a sport, a musical instrument or learning to ride a bike, then think again! The dinosaurs in this new card set are here to teach children skills of far greater—but less obvious— importance. You might call these ‘life skills’. They’re the skills that empower us and which we use everyday in our relationships with others. Can-Do Dinosaurs is a delightful set of 28 full-colour cards for building conversations with children about important life skills. They’re designed for anyone who spends time with children and who wants actively to encourage worthwhile competencies, good social habits and a child’s sense of personal confidence.

Can Do Dinosaurs is a perfect tool for helping children develop skills for: • Safety • Personal Worth • Self-Reflection • Inter-relationships • Resilience and Good Manners. Aimed at 3 to 7 year-olds, these cards feature minimal text to build literacy without excluding preliterate children. Bright and quirky, Can-Do Dinosaurs is for parents, primary teachers, early-childhood workers, counsellors, social workers and therapists looking to build that ‘I can’ attitude in little people. Cards illustrated by Kate Northover; accompanied by a fold-out wall frieze with suggested uses (840 x 148mm). A companion sticker pack is also available. Order your copy of Can-Do Dinosaurs online

The different statements featured on these cards will allow children to recognize valuable skills they already have, and help them add new skills to their repertoire. Some statements promote essential safety messages, like ‘I can be careful’ and ‘I can choose.’ Others are ideal for promoting interpersonal attributes, like ‘I can listen’, ‘I can be a friend’ and ‘I can say sorry.’

‘Dinosaurs may be extinct from the face of the planet, but they are alive and well in our imaginations. ‘ Steve Miller

More on the horizon We’ve been thrilled with the response so far to our new edition of Strength Cards for Kids. It’s always daunting to re-publish a resource that has been such an outstanding success over a long period of time, but customer feedback so far suggests that our loyal customers love Mat Jones’ quirky monkey characters as much as we do. Work continues on our new edition of Strengths In Teams and we are on target for an early January release. Thanks for all the inquiries about this project it should be up on our website by the time you read this newsletter. It helps to keep the momentum rolling when we know that a product is so eagerly awaited. The new edition features a

circus theme, and we are just thrilled with the illustrations by Andrew Bowler, whose Uncle Ray has been a long term contributor to our products. Another new project gaining momentum is Note to Self. Many of us surround ourselves with sticky notes, scraps of paper, or lists of things we want to remind ourselves to do on a day-today basis. Note to Self is a set of 24 stunning cards created by local author, Gena McLean, and designed by Castlemaine artist, Robyn Spicer. It reminds us that we have control over our thoughts and actions; that we have choices;

that our lives can be rich with meaning when we feel connected and fulfilled. Note to Self is steeped in the principles of Choice Theory – interwoven with components of Reality Therapy. We believe it will be a great adjunct to Cars’R’Us and become a must-have tool for counsellors, trainers, or anyone who wants to make a positive difference to their life.

Spring School 2009 Strengths-based Workshops for Human Service Workers Coming up in October is our Spring School, jointly hosted by St Luke’s and Innovative Resources. Developed for human service workers, the smorgasbord of workshops are formed around the principles of strengths-based practice, and are designed to be interactive, practical and inspirational! This year sees the return of ever-popular workshops like ‘Tools of the Trade’ as well as workshops on strengths-based supervision and encouraging client feedback. There’s also a brand new, three-day workshop called ‘Intensive Tool Building’, for any human service worker who has ever thought about developing a new tool for their own practice. Introduction to the Strengths Approach (19-20 Oct) Tools of the Trade (19 Oct) Intensive “Tool Building” (20-22 Oct) Strengths-based Supervision (21-22 Oct) Client Feedback-People Know what helps (23 Oct)

‘Soulful Melancholy’: Why feeling sad is no reason not to be happy (23 Oct) These Bendigo workshops will be facilitated by our experienced trainers, Di O’Neill, Russell Deal, Karen Masman and Eloise Neylon. For full details and to book, visit and follow the links from our homepage. Take advantage of these workshops to rediscover and build on your creativity as a human service worker. October is a delightful time to visit Central Victoria. If you’re travelling from Melbourne, why not use our fast train service? There are also a range of accommodation options to suit all budgets for those visiting for 2-day and 3-day workshops. Book quickly to avoid disappointment. Places are limited, checkout the newsletter on our website or contact Nola Tranter on 03 5442 0500 or email

‘I always wanted to be somebody, but I should have been more specific.’ - Lily Tomlin

Experiencing Grief and Loss Bereaved Mother's Heart not only celebrates and honours the life of a brave and determined young boy, but offers anyone who is experiencing loss a starting point for creating their own journey of healing, insight and growth.

is one of personal grief, creativity and transformation. The story of transforming loss, however, is relevant not only to bereaved mothers, but to people learning to live with other life-changing losses and trauma.

This deeply moving, but ultimately uplifting, publication follows the psychological and emotional journey of Carla van Laar after the death of her three-year-old-son, Vaughn. Told through words, prose and intense visual imagery, Carla’s story realizes the creative power which can be unleashed through the expression of grief and loss.

‘ I encourage you, the reader, to engage with the images, text and reflective notes in this book—guided by your own creativity, courage and compassion.’ - Carla van Laar

Bereaved Mothers’ Heart serves as a creative inspiration for people undertaking their own emotional journey. It also serves as a resource for counsellors and therapists seeking to introduce their clients to the expressive possibilities of creative arts therapy. Some readers may draw solace from exploring Carla’s story during their own grieving process, particularly if they, too, have lost a child. However, for other readers, it will be the expressive possibilities suggested by this book which are the primary interest.

This book is a must for anyone working with parents experiencing grief and loss. It is also a niche tool for creative arts therapists looking to open up the possibilities of creative expression with their clients.

The journey I have documented

SOON Mailbox Dear Innovative Resources, I just wanted to let you know how well your new Strength Cards for Kids have been received by the students in my Grade 2 class. I’ve been using SCFK in the classroom for many years now to create conversations about strengths and particularly to encourage kids to recognise strengths in others. And while the cards have always been welcomed enthusiastically, the monkeys really ellicited a huge response, particularly from the boys. I’m having trouble keeping the cards in the box. Certain cards keep turning up on students’ desks or stuck up on the wall (more often than not, the ‘I am good fun card’). My congratulations to Mat Jones, the illustrator of this beautiful new edition. Andrew Garner Fremantle WA ‘The wise person doesn’t give the right answer, they pose the right question.’ - Claude Levi-Strauss

Stacia Tauscher - Symbols bring hope I am a transcultural mental health worker (I am anglo, but lived 17 years in Tanzania). I see African men and women who have mental health issues, but I can usually only see them briefly for four sessions before referring them on. Recently I used the Symbols cards when I visited a young West African woman who is a refugee. She now has permanent residence and is working. She lives in supported accommodation and her case manager referred her to my service. She has been in Australia five years after coming out here at the age of 15 with her father and step mother and two brothers. About nine months previously, she had been contacted by someone from her home country informing her they had found her birth mother, and would she support the application? She did not remember her mother – it had been so long since she escaped from her home country – but of course she said yes. Her father was dying in hospital at the time. When the woman claiming to be her mother arrived, her father’s response was, ‘this woman is NOT your mother! She was devestated. Her father has since died, and her step mother has ‘disappeared’ with her two brothers. She was sad, and teary, and forgetful at work. She had been called into the Manager’s office twice asking her what was wrong, as she was forgetting things, and was usually so meticulous. She has since found her real mother, and is now trying to get her out to Australia. She has no contact with other people from her home country. I thought, what can I do to direct this interview so she leaves with some hope? I got out the Symbols cards, took a few off the top, and in very simple English said, ‘Choose a few cards that you like – that “speak” to you.’ She chose a butterfly, an anchor, the happy/ sad mask, a horse, and the ying and yang card. When I saw the anchor I thought, good, she has some sense of stability – little did I know. Pointing to the horse she said, ‘That is an animal – I like animals.’ ‘Tell me about this,’ I said, pointing to butterfly.

‘I don’t know what it is in English,’ she replied, ‘but it flies like this (waving her fingers in the air) and is pretty and makes me smile.’ I pointed to the ying and yang card. ‘And this one?’ I asked. ‘This one looks like my father, lying down and sleeping …he is peaceful.’ We talked a bit about what that meant for her, and then I pointed to the anchor and said, ‘tell me about this one.’ ‘Oh this one reminds me of what you see in some churches (She was referring to the cross in the top half of the anchor. She is a Muslim); that God is there and even though I can’t see him, He can see me.’ I asked about the masks card. ‘Oh, that one reminds me of my family – that we were happy.’ She left the session believing that God was over all; that there was hope of being with her mother again, and that her father was at peace. She said she felt ‘much lighter’. Thank you for the cards. I recently used the Ups and Downs cards with a refugee from the Sudan with great effect. Gillian Evans Counsellor and Psychotherapist Westmead NSW Check out Symbols and Ups and Downs on our website

‘If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.’ - Anne Bradstreet

Newsletter number 32  

Our Seriously Optimistic Online Newsletter with all the latest from Innovative Resources publications and bookshop.