The Goals aHead program, developed in partnership between the Purple Hands Foundation and zero2hero, and funded by our major partner uLaunch – powered by AKG, has been making significant strides in addressing youth mental health issues in Western Australia. 

Over eight weeks, this program specifically designed for Year 8 and 9 students, combines physical activity with classroom-based learning to educate and empower young people about mental health. It aims to increase mental health literacy, reduce stigma, and encourage help-seeking behaviours. 

"We believe that investing in youth mental health is crucial for building connected, thriving communities. We are committed to making a positive impact with Purple Hands and see empowering young people to be resilient and knowledgeable as key to achieving this vision," Mark Burns, Country Manager & MD, at uLaunch stated.

Youth mental health issues are on the rise in Western Australia, where 1 in 4 young people are currently experiencing poor mental health, and the state has the second-highest rate of youth suicide in the country.

“That’s why prevention, early intervention and mental health education is more important than ever before, and why we need to start by empowering our young people with the tools they need to handle life’s challenges,” Gemma West, Project Manager at zero2hero stated.

The Goals aHead program seeks to reverse these troubling trends by engaging students in meaningful conversations and activities designed to build resilience and promote mental well-being. 

Goals aHead Fremantle Dockers Club Tour

One parent, Kelly, shared the transformative impact the program had on her daughter, highlighting the struggles many students face in traditional school environments.  

"For my daughter and probably a lot of other students as well, school can sometimes be quite hard," she explained.  

The program's approach has proven to be a game-changer for students like Kelly's daughter, who have faced social pressures and daily stressors.  

"With my daughter in particular, social aspects, peer pressure, and things that happen in school day-to-day are really hard for her," Kelly shared. 

"I saw quite a lot of positive changes during her time in the Goals aHead program. She was very happy to talk about her day and tell me the things that she had done within the program, the things she had learned," the mother recounted.  

Students say hello to Fremantle's wellbeing dog Winnie

"She was more talkative, happy to have a little bit of a chat, and it was great." 

The impact extended beyond just individual growth. The program fostered a sense of community and support among the participants.  

"Those nine weeks I definitely saw a massive difference in her confidence. She was able to make new friendships, and her confidence and self-esteem grew along with the other participants in the program as well," Kelly noted. 

"She made many comments that she’d noticed other children had changed.

It was really nice to see she was noticing a change in others as well as herself.

- Kelly (Mother)

"The facilitators that ran the program were great. They were so motivated and really helped the students in building their motivation, enjoyment of the program, and understanding what it was all about. That really stood out.” 

The program’s emphasis on inclusivity and physical activity was particularly beneficial. 

"Having all the outdoor sport and the different things that my daughter wouldn’t usually get to do in school was really great for her," Kelly said.  

"Her participation definitely wasn’t limited during the program. It was very inclusive, and the whole program was so inclusive for everybody regardless of additional needs.” 

The Goals aHead program not only benefits the students but also extends its positive impact to families and school staff, providing a comprehensive support system. 

"I would really recommend this program to anyone who is lucky enough to take part in it for lots of reasons," Kelly concluded.  

"There are quite a few issues in schools that everybody is aware of - social media, the repercussions of COVID-19, and just so many factors that the kids are struggling with right now.

Students take part in a Goals aHead physical session

“This program gives not only the students but the families and the staff at the schools the extra support that they need to help these kids that are really struggling." 

Purple Hands Foundation General Manager, Donna Rendell, reflected on the transformation of the students during the 8-week program. 

“By providing students with resources and support to prioritise their mental health, we witness them develop a stronger sense of belonging among their peers, and understand more about their own well-being”, Rendell said.   

The Goals aHead program was delivered to over 140 students in 2023, with results demonstrating participants increasing their knowledge of mental health support networks, a substantial decrease in stigmatised opinions and a significant proportion of participants reporting they found it easier to relate to and support their peers after the program. With the continued support of uLaunch, powered by AKG, Purple Hands Foundation aims to increase the level of participation greatly in 2024 and beyond, so that the program can have a wider impact among West Australian students.