February 2024 – The award for Maroondah City Council Community Event of the Year recognises an event which best reflects the importance of strong community values and ties.

We are overjoyed to share the incredible news that Eastland’s Language of Friendship Event hosted in partnership with URSTRONG and Communities of Wellbeing  was bestowed as the winner.


The sold out ‘Language of Friendship’ workshop was presented on Thursday February 23rd to over 700 bookings by teacher, friendship expert and URSTRONG founder Dana Kerford on how to support their children to create healthy, feel-good social connections. The free all-ages session fostered a culture of kindness, addressing topics such as how friendships change and evolve and providing proven relationship strategies for everyone – even the adults.

A whole-community strategy, URSTRONG utilises the Friendology 101 curriculum, the Educator and Parent Resource Centres, and a variety of workshops and teacher training sessions. Using practical step-by-step instructions, students learn how to differentiate types of conflict (Friendship Fires™ vs Mean-on-Purpose) and manage this with kindness and respect.

Prior to the presentation, over 1300 attendees enjoyed interactive pop-ups including friendship inspired crafts, gratitude garden and Friendship Ninja classes which were hosted by 10 Maroondah URSTRONG schools and two community partners. Eastland also treated guest to engaging activities including a photo-booth, pop-up treats, and art display.

URSTRONG’s whole-school friendship strategy has improved the social climate in schools around the world, connecting over a million kids, parents, and teachers with a common language of friendship.

This award isn’t just a symbol of personal accomplishment; it’s a celebration of the collective effort, shared dreams, and the countless hours invested by my colleagues. Together, we’ve created a synergy that goes beyond the workplace – it’s a genuine camaraderie that elevates the work we do.

Moreover, I want to express my heartfelt appreciation for the impactful URSTRONG program we’ve been able to contribute to. It’s not just about receiving an award; it’s about the positive change we’ve been able to initiate and the lives we’ve touched through our collaborative efforts.

I am truly privileged to be surrounded by such an inspiring group of individuals like Edwina Ricci and Dana Kerford and to contribute to programs that make a meaningful difference. This award belongs to all of us, and I look forward to continuing this journey of growth, collaboration, and positive impact together. Here’s to more shared successes and the beautiful journey that lies ahead! 🙌 #Gratitude #TeamWork #AwardWinningJourney


Our beautiful partnership between URSTRONG and the community of Maroondah continues to blow us away! It’s so incredibly special that our Language of Friendship event, hosted by Eastland, was awarded “Community Event of the Year”! WOW!

Our shared passion for friendship and belonging have resulted in 20 URSTRONG Schools, hundreds of teachers trained in our Friendology curriculum, and adoption of our Friendship Journal school diaries for thousands of students. We cannot thank Edwina Ricci & Jodie Murphy enough! 💕 Eastland & Communities of Wellbeing have been behind this entire movement, providing our resources & supporting schools. Plus, the creation of the Friendship Ninja Zone, a space for students to go on excursions and practise their Friendology skills, was all because of them and their vision for Maroondah.

The Language of Friendship event was a celebration of this incredible partnership that reflects ongoing, meaningful impact – a true showcase of the power of friendship and community. 💗

MichaelTyson, Jane, and I are so proud to see our brand and friendship skills curriculum honoured in this very special way! Thank you to the community of Maroondah, Eastland, and especially the teachers & children who live and breathe our whole-school friendship strategy every day. Healthy friendships create healthy communities… Our future is in good hands in Maroondah! #KindAndStrong

Thank you to everyone who attended the event and all our amazing Friendship Ninja and URSTRONG Schools Ainslie Parklands Primary School Bayswater North Primary School Bayswater South Primary School Great Ryrie Primary School Heathmont East Primary School Ringwood North Primary School Rolling Hills Primary School Yarra Road Primary School Warranwood Primary School