Kookoo Kookaburra spreads wings and good vibes across WA
The recent Shows On The Go tour, Kookoo Kookaburra, travelled far and wide throughout May and June to spread the message of kindness to children across the state.
Visiting the Kimberley, Pilbara, Mid West, Goldfields-Esperance, Wheatbelt, Peel, South West and Great Southern regions, the crew travelled a huge 5,589 km to bring 17 performances and 14 workshops to regional Western Australian communities.
“Kindness is like a boomerang – if you throw it often it comes back often”
Written by A.J Bailey, adapted from the book by Gregg Dreise, this heartwarming story teaches children about the importance of friendship, respect and kindness. The narrator Leonard engages the audience to laugh like a Kookaburra and asks children along the way what they think Kookoo’s next move may be. During the performance the audience experienced the performer Leonard Donahue, a descendant from the Djabugay people, playing the didgeridoo and saw his many dance moves.
I was lucky enough to see three of the Kookoo Kookaburra shows in Kununurra, Katanning, and Kojonup while on field trips to the Kimberley and Great Southern.
First up was Kununurra in the expansive outdoor Picture Gardens on a Thursday night. As dusk set in, families started to fill the Gardens. A few mozzies didn’t stop them from setting up their deckchairs and picnics and enjoying the balmy evening. Organised by the Shire of Wyndham – East Kimberley and in partnership with the Picture Gardens and Community Resource Centre, there were cushions down front for all the children to get prime positions. Audience members were engaged every time Lenny pointed at the audience to laugh like a Kookaburra in their loudest voice.
Next up, on a cold day in the last week of May, four hundred and twenty children packed into the Katanning Town Hall to watch Kookoo Kookaburra. Locally presented by Shire of Katanning, it was great to see children all round put up their hands to answer what instrument was used in the performance, and with their loudest voices yell, “didgeridoo!” Children eagerly watched Lenny when he came out to dance, showing the audience his many dance moves. After the show, as the children filed out of the town hall, they all lined up to receive a Random Act of Kindness card as they high fived the actors and met the animals from the story.
On a Tuesday morning school children packed out a classroom at the Kojonup District High School to watch the show, locally presented by Shire of Kojonup. The children raised their hands enthusiastically wanting to be chosen to answer what they think is Kookoo the Kookaburra’s next move. The year five students were lucky to participate in a dance workshop run by the Lenny. He taught the students basic dance moves and routines that they practiced throughout the entire workshop.
The Shows on the Go tours are presented by Country Arts WA and Healthway promoting the Mentally Healthy WA campaign message, Act-Belong-Commit. The moral of Kookoo’s story teaches children “Kindness is like a boomerang – if you throw it often, it comes back often”. To tie into this theme, Kookoo Kookaburra audiences across the tour could draw from a lucky dip for a ‘Random Act of Kindness’ card. The cards contained simple ideas of how we can all be kinder in our everyday lives. Once the participant has completed the Random Act of Kindness, they can pass on the card to someone else to continue the spread of kindness.
Audiences also had the option of writing their own ideas for Random Acts of Kindness. Harvey Recreation and Cultural Centre even started a board where the community can pin up their Random Acts of Kindness, which is still growing even weeks after the show.
“Look after baby Lilly” -Sanni
“Share the toys with my friends” -Lochlan
“Help people believe in themselves” -Holly, aged 10
“Help kids ties their shoes” -Zoe, aged 8
“Make fruit and toast for my friends” -Lisa
Being kind or helping someone can reduce your stress levels, boost your mood and even increase your satisfaction in life. It seems Kookoo’s messages of kindness have spread all across the state;
What did you like about the show?
“THE MESSAGES MY CHILDREN TOOK: “Kindness is like a boomerang, if you throw it, it will always come back” and “We have 2 eyes, 2 ears and one mouth, you should listen and watch more than you speak”………this is what my 7 year old daughter rephrased to her father this morning…… great strong messages and related to dreamtime also.”
-Kalgoorlie audience member
“Because of the show my child wasn’t bullied again that week. My child wants Kookoo to come back!”
-Kojonup audience member
The response was that the communities loved the performance, and the kindness message.
“Thank you so much for bringing such an important message about kindness, friendship and feelings in a culturally appropriate way. The kids loved it!”
-Halls Creek audience member
“Such a wonderful time for the kids a great learning opportunity and excellent community event. Thank you for coming!” -Kalannie audience member
If you’d like to some ideas for Random Acts of Kindness or tips on how to stay mentally healthy, please visit the Act-Belong-Commit website; http://www.actbelongcommit.org.au/