Sophie Limbert had been counsellor at Forbes Public less than two years when record flooding devastated her school community.
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Yet in the days, weeks and months that followed she served that community so very well.
Sophie has now been recognised with the School Counselling and Psychology Association NSW Early Career Practitioner of the Year award (less than three years' experience).
The award recognised that Sophie was able to support students and the school community during the school closure and then relocation, while juggling the day to day administration requirements of her role.
Her work with flood affected families has continued in 2023 around trauma and post-flood implications such as loss, homelessness, and anxiety, working with the school chaplain and school support officer to roll out programs such as Storm Birds.
She's already demonstrated her continued commitment to future response as well: Sophie was just awarded a NSW Premier's Anika Foundation Youth Depression Awareness Scholarship to study natural disaster intervention programs across the world and bring that best practice back to NSW.
She shared her passion for ensuring kids affected by natural disaster have the best possible long-term mental health outcomes with the Advocate in our earlier story.
"Sophie has brought together service providers, educators, peer counsellors, parents, and community members," the award nomination says.
"She's facilitated open dialogues that address the multifaceted challenges students face through regular Learning and Support fortnightly meetings.
"Furthermore, Sophie's success in developing school support networks was evident through the implementation of disaster recovery support resources.
"By training school staff to identify signs of distress and provide initial assistance, she empowered peers to play an active role in the wellbeing of their students.
"This approach not only created a safe space for students to seek help but also created a consistent approach to enabling wellbeing."
Sophie's collaboration extends beyond the school walls, engaging mental health professionals, early childhood providers and disability support personnel as well as ensuring families are involved to provide a consistent support network between school and home.
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