Imagine every school had an oasis of calm with a care dog, greenery, and a relaxing water feature.
Students would wear watches that would alert teachers when their heart rates were elevated from stress or anxiety, and they needed to de-stress in a wellness biome.
When students from Carenne School in Bathurst outlined this vision for a school of the future, they weren't thinking about what made them different but what they had in common with students across Australia.
Carenne's vision to reduce students' depression and anxiety won the inaugural Game Challenge Competition, beating a range of mainstream schools.
It is estimated about 10 per cent of young men and about 20 per cent of young men and women aged 16 to 25 suffer from anxiety, and the numbers of younger children with anxiety is growing, too, say experts.
The students at Carenne – a school for specific purposes catering to children with intellectual and or physical disabilities, including autism and cerebral palsy – are no different.
Presenting Carenne's vision after a three-day workshop with other finalists in Sydney, Kade Muldoon, 12, said students couldn't learn if they were anxious or depressed.
"It is vital that our future schools provide safe, calm and relaxing places for happy and healthy students to learn and grow," said Mr Muldoon, the youngest member of the team.
When the team won, Mr Muldoon said his jaw dropped and he was happy to go home. Everyone else cried, including the school's principal, deputy principal and even "the communications lady" from the Department of Education.
Deputy principal Nadine Dwyer said the school – and parents – preferred to emphasise the students’ abilities, not their disabilities.
"We want to showcase our students abilities, and what they can bring to society, the world and to us," she said. Some of the other schools' ideas were very futuristic but she said the Carenne student thought about issues that affected children today.
"It is an immediate problem that we can have a solution to now, and we can build upon it in the future when new technology is available," said Ms Dwyer.
For some teachers, it was proof that Carenne's students could compete and outperform students in mainstream schools.
To develop their concept, the students drew on their own experiences, did their own research and attended a three-day workshop in Sydney with experts from companies like Adobe and TED talks.
Joint school captain of Carenne School in Bathurst, Mitchell Allan, 18, admitted the Challenge had made him feel nervous about the idea of competing in Sydney outside his normal comfort zone.
Mr Allan, who came up with the initial idea with the other school captain Will Tatnell, 17, said he was inspired by visiting his uncle's farm in the "middle of nowhere".
"All my worries go away because of the trees, the dogs, and the birds and the insects. It is quite peaceful," he said. At school, he takes his wheelchair for a drive around the playground when anxiety builds up.
Another student admitted sometimes stress made his heart bounce like a trampoline.
The idea of a biome was suggested by, Keith Pracy, 15, who had researched Singapore's giant glass domes housing cloud forests.
Presenting Carenne's vision after a three-day workshop with other finalists in Sydney, Mr Muldoon said students couldn't learn if they were anxious or depressed. "It is vital that our future schools provide safe, calm and relaxing places for happy and healthy students to learn and grow," he said.
According to Headspace, nearly a third of all young people say they are seeking its help because they suffer from anxiety. Mindspace's senior clinical adviser, psychologist Nick Guigan, said the prototype developed by Carenne was a fantastic initiative. He said some of its seven tips for dealing with anxiety included connecting with nature, taking some time out, and thinking of new ways to deal with tough times.
The challenge was launched by NSW education department secretary Mark Scott to turn students into critical thinkers, and concerned and active citizens, as well as tackling a problem facing students today.