The Resilience Project
  • 1 in 4 adolescents will experience mental health problems this year
  • 1 in 7 primary school students will experience mental health problems this year
  • 65% of adolescents will not seek help

These statistics present society with a significant challenge – our youth are struggling and many don’t ask for help. As a microcosm of society, at Whitefriars we need to play a role, along with parents, in helping young people develop the capacity to better cope with challenges in their lives and arm them with the skills required to be the best that they can be. As the cliché goes, prevention is better than cure.

In 2021, we have entered a formal partnership with ‘The Resilience Project’; an emotionally engaging program providing practical, evidence-based, positive mental health strategies to build resilience and happiness. The Resilience Project has delivered programs to over 500 schools around the country and worked with many elite sporting teams including Australian cricket, netball and soccer, NRL and AFL clubs.  Through presentations, wellbeing journals and an extensive school curriculum which will be delivered in our Wellbeing Program, The Resilience Project will seek to help our community become more mentally healthy. The program is built around 4 key principles: Gratitude, Empathy and Mindfulness.

  • Gratitude – Appreciating what you have, not begrudging what you don’t.
  • Empathy – Thinking of the needs of others, fostering a culture of kindness.
  • Mindfulness – Being present in the moment, not becoming distracted by unhelpful or negative thoughts.

Martin Heppell launched the program this week with our staff and challenged them to see the world through the eyes of our students. In a world where adolescents live so much of their lives online, they are faced with challenges never seen before.  As teachers, we are in a privileged position to make a difference in the lives of our boys. The Resilience Project provides an extensive curriculum which will be delivered weekly in our Wellbeing Program.  We will be teaching our young men how to be grateful, how to empathise with others and how to be mindful.

Martin also presented to all our students in a series of presentations reinforcing the critical nature of gratitude, empathy and mindfulness in being happy and mentally healthy. Here are some of the reactions of our boys:

Today’s presentation with Martin was really enjoyable and it was a pleasure to watch. I really enjoy the way how he engaged the audience and ‘picked on people from the crowd’. This included everyone as a whole into the presentation which made it more relatable and pleasurable. With this as an intro to our Wellbeing theme, I am really looking forward to participating in it as it not only teaches how to be resilient, but to be grateful for the things that you have, to have empathy for others and to always practise mindfulness, which I thought all were useless and irrelevant before being with Martin. He has changed the way I think in only an hour and once again, can’t wait to participate in this for wellbeing. (Johnny Papadopoulos)

Martin’s presentation on the Resilience Project touched on the importance of young men’s mental health and how it can affect our day to day actions, he taught us the simple ways to deal with mental health and the benefits they bring. He explained in great detail how trauma is different in every person and how nobody can tell you to toughen up from your experience this was very valuable to all of us young men listening as it was all very applicable in specific ways (Joshua Tovey).

Martin’s presentation about the resilience project today highlighted the key aspects gratitude, empathy and mindfulness and explored the different stories throughout his life and others which portrayed these values. His presentation was very funny and engaging because of his ability to involve the crowd, making us think of our own personal life and even cracking a joke every so often (Cristian Ciampa).  

As a whole school program, the learning cannot stop at the school gates. For parents via a webinar, Martin outlined the key principles of program, their importance to the health and wellbeing of their sons and urged parents to engage with these key principles which underpin the program and model them for their sons. Below is a link to a section of The Resilience Project website for parents.

TRP at Home — TRP@HOME (

TRP at Home provides a suite of activities and ideas to bring Gratitude, Empathy and Mindfulness to day-to-day life: from kitchen table conversations, to bedtime stories and backyard expeditions.

While The Resilience Project is not a silver bullet, we hope that as staff, students and parents engage in the program, we can contribute to the holistic development of our boys and help to create happy, gentle men.


Mr Mick Lafferty

Deputy Principal – Students