Ambrose educator Mackenzie Walters offers some ideas for maintaining a sense of hope for families in challenging times.
In today’s uncertain world, there is increasing concern about the anxieties young people face – especially while parents and caregivers navigate the current cost of living crisis and other social stressors.
Recently we spoke to Mackenzie Walters – Educator at Ambrose School Age Care, St Paul the Apostle, Winston Hills – who gives an insight into what parents and educators can do to empower children during difficult times.
Adults can be forgiven for feeling the immense weight of external pressures such as financial strain, bereavement, and even workplace politics while caring for young children, and indeed, such experiences can leave parents feeling burnt out. To ensure both adults and children maintain their sense of hope and resilience in such situations, Mackenzie offers a suggestion.
“To be vulnerable and open with others about how we are feeling, whether we are coping… I think this is key,” Mackenzie explains. “I have spoken to people about this, and it is the connections to God, their community and families that keep them going.”
The Ambrose Educational Leader says she observed how prayer helped many families work through the isolation and financial implications caused by the COVID-19 lockdowns. Now that new pressures, particularly financial, are impacting families, she encourages families to keep engaging with their faith to support both parents’ and children’s wellbeing.
“Prayer definitely gives us a sense of control and a chance to speak about our feelings in an open and safe way,” she says. “At Ambrose Winston Hills, in every session, we read a prayer that has been written by our children for our prayer book. They come straight from the children’s hearts, and this is definitely something parents and children can do at home.”
As a Catholic organisation, Ambrose is committed to maintaining a strong connection to the local community to better create a supportive and inclusive environment that fosters hope and resilience among its students and their families.
“Ambrose always makes sure students and parents are involved, whether it’s inviting them to Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparents’ Day celebrations, talent quests, open classrooms. Our educators always encourage this sense of community to help caregivers share in the successes of their children and build that sense of community and resilience in the students.”
“We always ensure families are involved in matters that impact them,” Mackenzie shares. “So, whether it’s supporting parents to be a part of the school committee or seeing parents checking in with each other to exchange second-hand uniforms to save money, Ambrose is ready to support.
“We also help encourage faith and hope throughout the community by being actively involved, such as our Christmas tradition where we make presents for our friends at Woodberry Aged Care Village,” Mackenzie says with a smile.
As we continue to navigate tough times individually and as a community, it is maintaining a strong relationship with God and our community that ultimately enables us to build resilience in our children and collectively maintain hope during challenging times.
How to help your children
- Pray openly and regularly
- Stay connected with your family and local community
- Be open to seeking help from others
Ambrose operates early learning centres and out-of-school hours care across the Diocese of Parramatta.
Do you know someone who would like to work with an organisation with Catholic values? Ambrose is always looking for great people to join our team. Visit ambrose.org.au/find-a-job
Belinda Harding is a freelance writer and contributor to Catholic Outlook.
This article was originally published in the 2023 Season of Creation | Spring edition of the Catholic Outlook Magazine. You can read the digital version here.