The Best of Friends® program, developed by iAccelerate resident Quirky Kid Clinic, is designed to be delivered in schools by teachers and school counsellors, and is aimed at children aged 7 to 11 years.

The 10-week program is already supported 30 participants that started during term 1. Term 2 intake closed on March 15.

“The Best of Friends program helps students gain the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, show empathy for others, develop and maintain friendships and make good decisions,” Quirky Kid Clinic CEO and Principal Psychologist Dr Kimberley O’Brien explained.

“Research has shown that children who participate in social and emotional learning (SEL) programs have better academic results and reduced behavioural issues, and are less likely to be on a waiting list for public housing or receive public assistance. They are also less likely to have any involvement with police before adulthood or spend time in a detention facility.”

Dr Noelene Weatherby-Fell from UOW’s School of Education will be undertaking a research collaboration with the Quirky Kid Clinic under the NSW Department of Industry’s TechVouchers program, evaluating The Best of Friends® program’s efficacy and shaping its future development.

The Quirky Kid Clinic, a child, adolescent and family psychology clinic with offices in Austinmer and Sydney, is a resident of UOW’s iAccelerate program, the University’s purpose-built business incubator at UOW Innovation Campus.

Dr O’Brien said having access to the entrepreneurial ecosystem and support has sharpened the company’s focus and opened the doors to using new technologies to amplify the impact of its programs.

“This study will greatly advance research and practice in relation to what really works when it comes to building social and emotional skills in Australia. By designing something that is tailored to our culture and our children we can dramatically improve the overall wellbeing of generations to come.”

The randomised trial will see children take part in The Best of Friends® through a series of 10 one-hour small group sessions delivered by a trained facilitator, with interviews and assessments before commencement and on completion of the program. Parents will receive weekly email updates with key program content so they can support their children as the program progresses. 

The program is currently calling for participants, and parents are invited find out more and to register their interest online.


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