Bendigo duo help young steer through life’s maze

A BENDIGO father and daughter are looking to improve young people’s mental wellbeing through the art of storytelling.

Bendigo psychologist Ivan Honey and his daughter, former army captain Rebekah Russell, last week launched two new books as part of the Doug Dragster Program.

Dr Honey and Ms Russell were joined on stage by Bendigo Labor MP Jacinta Allan to officially unveil new books The Amazing Adventures of Doug Dragster and Doug Dragster’s Magic Book.

The invitation promised the event would be no ordinary book launch, with competitions, music and prizes part of the planned celebrations. And it did not disappoint.

Guests were treated to sandwiches and Devonshire tea as the authors steered them through the program, and were later invited to join in singing a rap song written around the books.

Based on the positive psychology of Choice Theory, the program uses the metaphor of a car to explain to readers that the only person’s behaviour they can control is their own.

Ms Russell said there was method behind their madness, with each part of the car used to explain feelings, behaviours, direction, perspective and habits – introducing children to ideas on mental health in a fun and engaging way.

“Every component of a car can be linked in with positive psychology,” she said.

“For example, the engine is what drives our behaviour, the steering wheel is what provides direction in our lives, and the windscreen is how we see the world.

“These metaphors help them to understand we all see the world through our own windscreen.

“Kids are able to pick this up quickly and develop strategies on how to deal with adversity.”

What started off as a simple concept six years ago now includes an illustrated chapter book, activity comic book and audio book as well as guides for parents, teachers and therapists.

Dr Honey said the introduction of smartphone and tablet apps was next on the horizon.

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