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How a giraffe helped shape the future

Friday, 9 Aug 2019

Danielle Carter’s first interaction with Life Ed was when the team visited her primary school in Hunter’s Hill, Sydney. Two decades later, the 25-year-old market researcher reminisces about the impact of a giraffe who helped to shape her future.

How a giraffe helped shape my future
By Danielle Carter

I have a distinct memory of the Life Ed van arriving and all the kids lining up to get in first so we could sit front and centre for the lessons. I had heard great things about the program from my older siblings and of course wanted to interact with Healthy Harold.

My three siblings and I all recall our experiences with the Life Ed van and Healthy Harold. All of my friends are also familiar with the lessons, though we typically remember Life Ed through the giraffe! Whether as a puppet or on the one occasion I met him in a mechanic form, he taught us so much.

My parents work in the medical field so even from a young age I had a genuine interest in the health aspect of the lessons so anything from nutrition and active living. The lessons were always so interactive – especially when the transparent human body appeared – so I think that’s why I was so engaged and recall them so well almost 20 years on.

I have to say, having resilience and grit has to be one of the most important lessons I’ve taken away from the Life Ed program. That’s definitely something I think is crucial for young people when navigating the path to adulthood, so I am so glad I learned those lessons early on.
Also, understanding the effects of alcohol and drugs was so important, especially when we were in high school. This is where kids started to develop perceptions that drinking underage was ‘cool’ and I can understand why it’s so easy to fall into the wrong sort of mindset just because everyone else is doing something. I have to say those lessons really stuck with me throughout high school.

Those lessons instilled in me the values that my moral compass is built upon and ultimately that helps me make informed choices in certain situations. For example, I know to stay away from illicit drugs because I clearly know of the effects, or I know the associated dangers of taking prescribed medication. It’s really all about being informed and that’s invaluable for anyone.

And that has been something I have kept in mind as an adult. As you grow up, it can be incredibly difficult to live a balanced life. Work can be all consuming, you may not get enough sleep, perhaps have one to many drinks when you’re out or perhaps you don’t exercise enough. It’s inherent in life and the only way to get back to balance is to go back to the fundamentals. Healthy Harold helps establish those fundamentals that are at the core of living a balanced, healthy and safe life.

I am very surprised at how enduring of a character Healthy Harold really is. Admittedly, I didn’t know the name behind these valuable lessons was Life Ed, but I absolutely remembered Healthy Harold and the lessons he taught me. I suppose that goes to show just how important he is.