Eve Tonkin


I just had to put pen to paper to express my gratitude to you for the extraordinary programme that you have created. Jade Speaks Up is very different to any health programme that we have ever had anything to do with because it is holistic, emotionally intelligent and authentic for each who participates in it.
The depth, breadth and profundity of the programme makes it far and away the best personal safety programme that I have ever come across. It is also the best emotional intelligence course that I have ever used. It has helped me to identify children who are in need of help, who would never have come forward otherwise, and, equally importantly, it has taught all of the children in the class to be more self-aware, to understand their own and others’ emotions better, and to develop the tolerance towards others and the self-assertiveness strategies that are so important at NZC Level 3 and 4.
Teachers are often the first port of call for unhappy and/or at-risk students, and while we are professionally capable of offering a great deal of support to them, we are not trained counsellors. We have to learn on the job, by listening to and caring about our students. The demands on us sometimes make us so busy that we are not present for our kids. Doing the Jade Speaks Up programme together gave us the space and time to be more real together and gave the students opportunities to help each other out. As the students understood that their classmates cared for them when they shared various emotions they felt more deeply connected, and as you know, connectedness is the state of being on which all true and personally meaningful learning depends.
Jade Speaks Up is useful for everyone, not just children at risk. Before I did it, I was concerned that some of the content might frighten some students, but this never happened. In fact, the course has been created with such sensitivity that students found it meaningful and real whatever their situation in life, and no one was overwhelmed by the content. The students also found it fun and they still play several of the games that they learned.
Another key strength of the Jade Speaks Up programme in my opinion is the fact that it is not a behavioural programme wherein teachers train students to follow certain behaviour patterns and pass moral judgements on what is and isn’t ok. Rather, it is an inclusive programme that goes to the root of human separateness and suffering by reassuring children that they have a right to be happy and safe, and enabling them to “breathe, think, and do” to get themselves there. This is why, even now, two years after their Jade Speaks Up class, the students who went through it with me still use “Breathe, Think and Do” and the children who were the juniors at that time still talk about it in school meetings. The idea of breathing to relax when you are upset is part of our school culture.
I fully endorse this programme and recommend it for all schools with children aged between 8-13.
Mauri ora!