The Brotherhood Initiative

The spirit of brotherhood

Connecting with older students through the ‘Brotherhood Initiative’ has been a game-changer for younger boys struggling with the impacts of isolation as a result of COVID-19 at Marist College Ashgrove.

“We knew many boys would be proficient at organising their own social contact with friends and peers,” says College Psychologist, Lisa Babon.

“However, for some, this would prove challenging and without support they may not have had regular interaction with others while learning at home. This was concerning because we know that feeling a sense of belonging to their school community and having a connection to peers and teachers is vital for the good mental health of our students.”

So the Brotherhood Initiative was born and the schools 37 Year 12 Leaders were invited to become ‘Brothers’ to their peers.

“The younger boys who registered for the initiative have been having weekly video conversations with one of the Leaders, building a relationship as friends and ensuring they felt connected with the school community,” explains Lisa.

College Vice Captain (Cultural), Dom Malt shared, “the simple act of solidarity – interacting with these younger students not as the College leaders but as friends and equals – is the greatest strength of the program.”

The Brotherhood Initiative supporting younger students

During learning at home this initiative supported 30 boys from Marist and as one mother explains, “my son had a call last week and it brightened his whole week. I knew he was missing the company of the boys from school, but I didn’t realise how much until this video chat.”

Another mother explained that the initiative had made a massive difference for her son, beyond COVID-19 and at home learning. “The Brotherhood Initiative has been a game-changer for my son. He was withdrawn, depressed and isolated, but after participating, he has become a different boy. Just having someone to reach out to, to share ordinary, everyday conversations, has given him a sense of belonging and self-worth. His ‘big brother’ has made him feel human, to feel valued and no longer alone. I honestly don’t know where we would be without the program.”

The Year 12 Leaders at Marist are very motivated to continue to ensure all boys feel connected to their community and peers, as they return to school. The students are looking for an opportunity to extend the initiative, perhaps embedding it in the College’s Pastoral Care Program and inviting other grade 12 students to become involved as ‘brothers’.

Marist College Year 12 Leaders
Marist College Year 12 Leaders

Leaders play a meaningful role through the Brotherhood Initiative

College Vice Captain (Academic), Lucas Kozlovskis said, “while this initiative is something that was founded as a response to the pandemic, its use and benefits will certainly seep into the cracks of everyday school life. I am extremely confident and motivated to grow this into something much larger for the years to come.” 

For many Year 12 Leaders this initiative was also personally meaningful.  Many reflected on how they felt as a new or younger student at the college still finding their place in the community and how daunting this was. College Captain, James Clarke explained, “I remember all too well, in my early years at the college, I was a very shy, awkward and passive kid who struggled to fit in. Being able to personally get to know a boy who I see myself in is something that connects with me deeply.
I, as well as many other 2020 graduates, understand how daunting entering a new school is and I want to do everything that I can to ensure that these younger boys feel welcome, accepted and cared for.”

We are very proud of our leaders who have shown that small acts of kindness can really go a long way.

Lisa Babon

This is a great initiative, developed by young men which recognises the importance of mental health and wellbeing and the big difference, small gestures can make. We would all share College Psychologist, Lisa Babon’s praise for these leaders when she said, “we are very proud of our leaders who have shown that small acts of kindness can really go a long way.”

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