Parent Seminar Report - Hugh Van Cuylenburg

On Wednesday 23 August, Padua College was delighted to present the annual Parent Educational Forum, by welcoming renowned speaker and founder of “The Resilience Project”, Hugh Van Cuylenburg to address our parent community. What an amazing turnout, with over 300 parents attending this evening, which was held in the Ursula Frayne Centre. He captivated the audience with his inspiring, humorous stories and motivational thoughts for over 90 minutes. We would like to present just a few of his main points for those of you who were unable to attend on the night.

* 1 in 5 Adults will develop mental health problems throughout a year.

 * 1 in 4 Adolescents have a mental illness with 1 in 7 Primary School kids having a mental disorder.

 * 1 in 3 Girls suffer from an anxiety disorder and 1 in 5

 * 65% of adolescents DO NOT SEEK HELP for mental illness.

In 2017, the adolescent child brain receives the same amount of information as we (adults) did in one year at the same age.


Three things that can directly influence the strength of our emotions:

 - Music

 - Exercise and

 - Laughter





MINDFULNESS (acronym G.E.M.)

If one practices these 3 things every day, it is scientifically proven, from research spanning 30 years, that we will not fall as far down the mental illness spectrum and will bounce back much quicker from the challenges that life throws us.


GRATITUDE is the ability to focus on what we’ve got, not on what we don’t have. Positive risk-taking and adversity will lead to developing more resilient children and adolescents. Do not do for your children what they can do for themselves. Avoid saving them from the consequences of their actions and failures. In Australia, we are 7 times more likely to notice and focus in on a negative rather than a positive – we need to turn this right around. So how can we practice Gratitude? In conversation, each evening with our children or by writing down at night, note 3 simple things that went well for you through the day

* What was the best thing that happened to me today?

* Who am I most grateful for today and why?

* What am I looking forward to most tomorrow?

The University of Massachusetts found that through writing in a Gratitude Journal,  in only 21 days, we can actually rewire our brain to scan for the positive. By continuing this practice for 42 days, there are even more positive gains to be experienced as we:

 - Are less likely to get sick

 - Have higher levels of energy

 - Feel happier 

 - Are more enthusiastic

 - Are more attentive 

 - Are more determined

 - Are more optimistic

 - Have a better quality of sleep and the most incredible benefit

 - Have lower levels of depression and anxiety

If you would like to follow through and purchase one of Hugh’s Gratitude Journals, which were on sale at the end of the evening, please just visit

EMPATHY – when we are able to identify/ sympathize and do kind things for each other, Oxytocin is released by the hypothalamus in the brain which leads to increases in self-esteem and confidence, energy, happiness and positivity. Look for opportunities to do a random act of kindness for someone.

MINDFULNESS is the ability to shut-off disruptive thoughts and just be present – no distractions! This is becoming increasingly more difficult as…

Statistics are showing us that 4 in 5 kids are now addicted to their phones & technology. How can we address this with our children and ourselves? It will certainly be difficult but here are a few things to start with:

* Turn OFF all notifications on the phone through settings.*

* Re-arrange the home screen so you only have apps that make you feel good - download some positive apps e.g. Smiling Mind, Buddhify, Fade, Headspace and practice meditation and mindfulness. The Resilience Project will be releasing their APP towards the end of September so watch out for that too.

* DO NOT have devices out during family time e.g. Dinner

As parents, it is so important for us to also model this behavior.



The benefits are well documented, some of which are listed below.

Mental Benefits of Meditation

* reduces depression and anxiety, improves decision making, improves ability to focus, reduces drug/alcohol abuse

Physical Benefits of Meditation

* relieves stress, prevents heart disease, lowers blood pressure, reduces chronic pain, improves sleep, makes you less nervous

Finally, we would like to thank the college for supporting the Padua Educational Forum group in its endeavors such as this evening and to all the wonderful people who assisted us in putting this evening together, the college admin., media and publicity, sound and AV, Maintenance, hall set up, refreshments etc. Sincere appreciation to the members of our Padua parent group who also helped out on the night with various tasks – this really is ‘parents in partnership with Padua’ working at its best.