Whilst COVID and lockdown restrictions have impacted every Australian, personally and professionally, the focus of concern is now firmly on our children. So aptly expressed and championed by #shadowpandemicvic, children of all ages are suffering in immeasurable ways. Not being able to attend school, and partake in extracurricular activities like sport, music and dance, is having such a detrimental impact on our children.

Close to home, my teenagers are not immune. My daughter has suffered her way through COVID, with deep-seated anxiety and depression. She’s a collaborative worker and thrives off the physical presence of others. As an extrovert, she gets her energy from her friendship group. Unfortunately when you only see people through a filtered version of their lives on social media, you are presented with a false reality. She didn’t realise that other people were suffering as well, that they were just presenting what they thought was a socially acceptable version of themselves.

She felt so isolated. She wouldn’t leave her room, she did her schooling from her bed, she wouldn’t even celebrate her 13th birthday. At that time we were renovating our home so we were living elsewhere, and she didn’t have her own space and was living in limbo. And whilst we engaged professionals to help her, it wasn’t until we moved into our home and she had a beautiful room that was all hers, that she began to smile again. Having her own space helped her find her identity and gave her a sense of pride and self-worth. She found hope. The change was like night and day.

Fortunately my son enjoys online learning. He loves computers so the system really works for him, but he is acutely aware that many of his friends are struggling. However one of the most significant issues for both my children is that their favourite activity has been taken away. Snow sports are such a huge part of their lives. They’re really good at it, and get a sense of self-worth from competing. For so many children losing the chance to engage in  any of their hobbies that take place outside of the home leaves a massive hole in their lives. According to Michael Carr-Gregg, one of Australia’s leading psychologists, children need ‘islands of competence’. Being good at something gives you a sense of identity and self-worth. When the things you are good at are taken away from you, you also lose your energy and purpose.

All of these experiences, and what we have seen happening to children everywhere, has led us to developing a program called #myhappyspacemovement. We have created a support package for two students who will be gifted a KWD & Co. Access design consultation. We want to give these children some control back in their lives, because COVID has taken so much of that control away. They can’t control what activities they do, where they go or who they see – but with this opportunity they can control how their private space looks and feels.

Once we have talked to the beneficiaries about ‘their’ space and how ‘they’ want it to look, we will work with our supply partners and trades to make their happy space a reality – make their dream come true. I want these children to have a sanctuary. A safe space and an environment that they feel proud of and they are happy to share with their friends, particularly during online classes, house parties and Zoom catch ups. I am so passionate about creating spaces that ‘feel’ good. It’s not just about how it looks – it’s about how the space makes you feel.

As my daughter so succinctly said: “The people I’m with, and the space I’m in completely impacts my mood. I get my vibe from my space. And if the space is beautiful, it’s a happy vibe.

I am so proud of Charlie and Jemima who are championing this movement with me and my KWD & Co. team, and we hope to ignite a flame for others to follow suit. Let’s make happy spaces, one room at a time, one smile at a time.

Kate Walker

Check out the KWD & Co. Instagram page for all the details on how to enter: https://www.instagram.com/p/CTTmGgUFvUA/

I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way.
Show them all the beauty they possess inside. Give them a sense of pride to make it easier.
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be.

Sung by Whitney Houston



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