New lease on life for Harold’s Life Ed van

A TOWERING version of the loveable and unforgettable health education mascot Harold the giraffe has helped Kosciuszko Street Primary School students celebrate the launch of Gippsland’s new Life Education van.

Stopping off at the school last week, the mobile learning centre has replaced the ailing 20 year-old van, making it easier to visit schools from Longwarry to Mallacoota.

Gippsland Life Ed chair Helen Hoppner said the new van also featured a wheelchair lift, enabling students with all abilities to gain the full experience of the program.

A $30,000 donation from local Freemasonry groups and the Freemasons Public Charitable Foundation enabled the Gippsland Life Ed board to purchase the new van much sooner than first thought.

“To be able to support youth is a top priority for us,” Freemasons Victoria grand master Bob Jones said.

With the new van, comes new technology.

Educator Jan Detering said Life Education now used an electronic tablet in its classes, which mirrored information on the large screen, along with an application which could be downloaded and used later in the classroom or at home.

The classes focus on nutrition, syringe safety, drugs and social issues including bullying.

“We aim to give the students the skills to put their new knowledge to use, like skills to resist peer pressure,” Ms Detering said.

It takes about $30,000 a year to run the Life Ed van in Gippsland, with ongoing support from local businesses.

Ms Hoppner said the board hoped to put in place a strategy to reach more people in Gippsland, as the van currently reached only about half of the region’s children.

She said individuals could choose to sponsor the van at $2 a child.

“We don’t want people to miss out on this program,” Ms Hoppner said.

If you are an individual or business interested in supporting Life Ed Gippsland, phone Ms Hoppner on 5148 9214.