Professor Lea Waters hosts Strengths Based Parenting talk in Scone as Where there's A Will widens its focus

MORE than 250 people joined Professor Lea Waters at Scone RSL on Monday night as she launched her Strength Switch Family Facilitation Project.

The community response was huge, with a further 50 people tuning in for a live-streaming of the talk.

Professor Waters is a world expert in Positive Psychology and author of The Strength Switch - a guide that helps parents discover children's strengths and talents.

The event was organised by the Where there's a Will Foundation (WTAW), as they widen their focus from students to parents, providing opportunities for them to help strengthen the safety net around children when it comes to mental health in the Upper Hunter.

Feedback after the two hour presentation suggested everyone was 'blown away', with some calling it "life-changing".

WTAW chairman Jane Callinan said she was pleased to see the number of men, women, grandparents and carers in attendance.

"What we noticed about the room, and Lea Waters commented as well, was the number of men," she said.

"It's really easy to get women to these events and we loved how many men were there and we noticed grandparents and carers there - so people that have different roles in our community around young people."

She said people came away from the talk "excited and aware that there's been a big piece of work in the schools over the last two years" and now the focus is on how that can be supported and consistent at home.

"It's now giving parents the tools to support their kids in being effective and happy by focusing on their strengths," she said.

The talk served as a launch of the program and now local teachers will participate in training clinics with Professor Waters to develop capability in the Upper Hunter community to deliver the training.

"It's a lot more cost effective that way, can be run when it's needed and it's great development for the teachers," Ms Callinan said.

"So, the facilitators for Family Strength Switch Facilitation will be local and as there's more demand, more people can qualify."

Ms Callinan said the first step for parents that are interested in Professor Waters' teachings is to read her book about parenting, The Strength Switch.

The book was available on Monday night and had a huge response, with more than 100 copies sold.

It is also available locally through WTAW.

"Lea's premise, and she has scientifically proven this, is that if you want your child to be happy and effective, they will be more happy and more effective if you focus on their strengths first and then the weaknesses that are going to hold them back," Ms Callinan explained.

"Not all of their weaknesses, just the ones that it would be useful to overcome.

"So it's happy and effective - focus on your strengths."

The first 12 months of the program has been gifted to the Upper Hunter community by Professor Waters.

After that, WTAW will fund the initiative and continue to train teachers to facilitate it locally as long as the demand is there.

"This is another example where the community is consistently raising money for WTAW and step two is please turn up to training we provide," Ms Callinan concluded.

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