La Trobe students work on SMILE

Health students work with community in new SMILE program, supporting mental health.

There's nothing like real life experience to put University training into perspective.

And that's exactly what a group of La Trobe University students have found following an eight-week program working with community members in the Broadmeadows area, Melbourne.

Students from nursing, nutrition and psychology have worked closely with community members to deliver weekly presentations on health and wellbeing, followed by an art making session focused on the topic.

Instigated by Dr Louise Ward, a Senior Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing, the SMILE (Student Managed Initiatives in Lifestyle Education) program has shown extensive benefits for the students as well as community members.

"For the students, the benefit is it gives them a great opportunity to do meaningful work with real people, which is great training for their career path," Dr Ward said.

"For the community members, they feel like they're a part of meaningful training for the students and they also learn useful information about living healthy lifestyles."

This week, the group will celebrate an art exhibition to display their work and mark Mental Health Week 2015.

The display will feature drawings and 'found object' sculptures that group members have completed over the past eight weeks. Artworks include a range of drawings completed by community members depicting what they have learned in their sessions.

The exhibition will be held at the Dallas Neighbourhood House, Broadmeadows Wednesday 7 October, 5pm.

Dr Ward will begin the next eight-week program immediately. In future, she hopes to involve students from more health disciplines. 

Media contact

Leah Humphrys, Media and Communications Officer

T: 9479 5353

Image: A range of creative artworks have been produced during the program.

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