Helping Kids climb the Big Tree

Morten the Monster in The Big Tree app
Morten the Monster inThe Big Tree app

Chris Hemsworth is a father and passionate advocate for children; he strongly believes in protecting children so they do not end up traumatised by the impacts of neglect and abuse. He works closely with The Australian Childhood Foundation (ACF) in an endeavour to increase the profile of this critical social issue and has committed his support, time and money to their plight.

The Big Tree App
The ACF has an app called ‘The Big Tree’ to support children to have fun while they practise calming techniques and listen to stories that teach them problem solving strategies.

It is specifically designed for children under eight years of age. Featuring the voices of patron Chris Hemsworth, ambassador Nadine Garner, and Chris’s mum Leonie Hemsworth, it uses narratives, games and creative activities to help children learn how relationships can support them to meet challenges which can feel overwhelming on their own.

“Research tells us that all children need a strong sense of belonging and connection with carers and family to develop important regulation as they grow up. The Big Tree app is a beautiful and playful way for children to be part of stories that show the importance of connecting to others while solving problems that seem at first to be insurmountable,” said CEO, Dr Joe Tucci.

The Big Tree app – originally funded by the Telstra Foundation – was initially developed for children suffering from trauma and trialled in our specialist counselling services. We know the app is beneficial to all children because its themes and activities are universal and easily understandable to them and their carers.

“The central stories about trust, respect and love show children that challenges can be overcome and that seeking out people who care about you when you are unhappy, stressed or confused can help you feel calmer”, said Dr Tucci.

The Big Tree incorporates four core narratives featuring four main characters; Morten the Monster (voice of Chris), Ellen the Caterpillar (voice of Leonie), Ollie the Monkey (voice of Chris) and Sleepy Susan the Cat (voice of Nadine), each of which helps children to consider the emotions and thoughts associated with challenges that come to be resolved through the support of friends.

Each of the stories has an interactive game element that engages children in using breathing relaxation techniques and shared playful activities with their parents and/or carers.

Nadine Garner was interviewed on Channel 7’s The Daily Edition about the app:

“I have been involved with the foundation for about ten years and try to be an ambassador to the Foundation. Unfortunately there is a growing need in our community to reach out to families, carers and teachers to make people aware of what our children are going through behind closed doors – in homes, in schools. It is an unsavoury and horrible thing that happens to kids and is something that people really don’t want to talk about. The Foundation and myself are very committed to making people discuss and face it; putting messages out. And all the positive messaging that we can do at the other end of the abuse is what this app is all about.”

The Big Tree App can be downloaded from iTunes [apple.com/itunes/] for $4.49 with all funds raised supporting ACF’s work to support children affected by abuse and family violence.

About Raine Biancalt 8 Articles

Raine Biancalt has a Diploma of Arts (Professional Writing & Editing) and a background in both government and corporate worlds. She enjoys art, history, writing and old movies.