The Sparky and Shady program has evolved over the last eight years, thanks to feedback from participants, further studies in psychology, hands on workshops and one one one sessions with children, parents and families.
The new and current focus is on supporting families to have respectful and loving relationships so children, adolescents and parents feel good about themselves and life.
It is much easier for us to be respectful of ourselves and others when we understand ourselves and how we work as human beings.
The content is based on an imaginary idea that each of us have a loving courageous part of us, Sparky, and a fearful ‘bravado’ part of us, Shady. We get to choose which part of us we listen to to meet our human needs. If we choose Sparky we meet our needs in respectful ways. If we choose Shady, we are likely to meet our needs in ways that are disrespectful.
Shady is not the ‘bad’ part of us. Humans need fear to keep us alive, protect us and keep us safe.
Sparky and Shady helps us understand ourselves so we can use our courage and fear in appropriate ways that are respectful and good for us and others too.
You can access Sparky and Shady as an individual, family or school, workshops and one on one sessions are held in person and over Zoom.
Sparky and Shady is listed as a resilience resource on Beyond Blue and endorsed by clinical psychologist and author, Andrew Fuller.
Traditionally, there are ten lessons in the Sparky and Shady program which are outlined in both children’s books:
Currently this program is being updated and includes, an introductory level which gives an overview of the basic elements of the program and then, for those who want more, an extension level.
Author and Founder of ‘Sparky and Shady’
Bachelor of Education (Behaviour Management)
Bachelor of Psychological Science with Honours
Hi! I’m Kathy, I’m 52 yrs old. I live on the East Coast of Australia with my supportive husband, Jeremy, our 18 yr old son, Jack and our dog Ranger. We have an older son too, his name is Ashley and he is 30, he and his amazing partner Jess have added another member to our family, Ruby! Ruby is 19 months old.
Below is the story of why I originally wanted to understand how human beings work. At the moment however, my aim is to support families to enjoy being together. I love sharing my knowledge and strategies to support children and adolescents to live happy lives and stay connected to their parents. Choosing to be loving and courageous can be hard, understanding why it is easier to be disrespectful to get our needs met helps children and young people to make better decisions.
Here’s my story…
On the first day of my fourth year of Uni I ran into the back of a car on my motorbike and seriously injured my right leg. I broke it in 4 places and cut my knee open. The ambulance guys told me afterwards that they were surprised the surgeon didn’t amputate my lower leg. Over the next five years I had a total of seven operations to get my leg as good as they could get it.
After one of those operations I woke up from the anaesthetic and my first thought was, “Why didn’t anyone teach me how I worked when I was kid?”
I didn’t understand myself at all. My thoughts, feelings and behaviours were out of control and I didn’t know how to manage myself. I decided I would find out how human beings worked and teach it to kids so they could fix themselves up if anything ever went wrong in their lives.
Over the next 22 years I researched grief, human development, self-help, philosophy and psychology for answers. I finished my teaching degree with a major in behaviour management and taught in many different roles including; behaviour teacher and consultant, primary school teacher, assistant principal and acting principal. These roles were in public, private, Catholic, Christian and Steiner schools.
During this time I came across lots of strategies to manage my thoughts and feelings which I tried on myself and on students I worked with. I was continually disappointed that these strategies didn’t provide the long term changes I was hoping for.
One memorable day, around the year 2002, I was timetabled to support a particularly challenging student called Sam. He was a nine year old boy with a history of trauma. I knocked on his classroom door seconds after he had just thrown a chair across the room at his teacher. The teacher asked me to take him outside. Sam swore at the teacher, the class and at me before leaving the room, then he ran down the playground yelling that he didn’t have to do anything I told him to.
I felt totally out of my depth as I sat down at a lunch table in the sun, closed my eyes and asked myself, “How can I help this kid?” I immediately felt a warm, loving feeling inside my body. I felt calm, peaceful and as though everything was going to be okay. A couple of minutes later I opened my eyes and Sam was sitting across the table from me, he looked calm too. He asked me, “Did you bring your handball?” When I said, “yes” he challenged me to a game of handball and he won.
That was the day I met Sparky, my loving courage. For years I’d been asking myself, “How do I help kids? How do I help kids cope with problems? How do I help kids understand themselves? How do I help kids believe in themselves?” They say that if you ask a question long enough you will eventually find the answer. Thanks to Sam, I did.
Fast forward to the present and Sparky and Shady is a complete tried and tested program that helps kids, parents, grown ups and teachers. It has strategies for managing your body, thoughts, feelings and behaviours at a conscious level and more in depth strategies (these are covered in the extension lessons) to deal with fearful subconscious beliefs that limit our lives and happiness in the long term.
This program works for me and for many, many others. I have been teaching the content for eight years now and have many testimonials about the program’s effectiveness.
Life is an amazing adventure!
Every single human being on earth deserves and is worthy of the best that life has to offer, this includes: love, happiness, health, wealth, material possessions, adventures, loving relationships with family, friends and others, peace, contentment and fulfilment.
Each of us is also here to contribute the best that we have to offer, we do this when we; be our loving selves, share our gifts, learn the lessons we are here to learn, follow our dreams and make the difference on earth we were born to make.
I believe love is the answer to many of the problems in the world.
When we imagine we have a loving courageous part of us that wants what is best for us, other people and the planet it is easier to be respectful of ourselves and others and to meet our human needs in respectful ways. I call our loving courage ‘Sparky’.
Fear is a natural and normal part of life. The purpose of fear is to keep us alive and safe and to protect us too.
The problem with fear is that if we do not learn to manage our fear, it can seep into our lives through our thoughts and feelings until we end up believing unhelpful things about ourselves, other people and life.
‘Shady’ is our fear. Learning to manage our fear includes learning to love our Shady so we can let go of unhelpful beliefs.