Spring days in the sun have formed the backdrop to our wonderful Wellbeing Week which was celebrated in style this week at Belmont. To embrace Mental Health Awareness Week, we were delighted to offer an exciting range of activities for the children to enjoy. The theme of this important week was how to combat anxiety and therefore much of what we have done has encouraged the pupils to think positively about how they can help confront the challenges of anxiety which is sadly so common amongst young people.
To kick off the week we had dance instructor Jamie Southall talk in assembly about how she coped with nerves and anxiety when she was dancing in the West End and with her dance troop in the semi-finals of Britain’s Got Talent. She hosted lots of ‘Shake it Off’ dance sessions to energise the pupils and encourage them to think about dance as an excellent way to support good mental health.
The Lower School pupils have connected with nature on many levels with lots of lessons outdoors. Our Year 3 pupils took part in Forest Bathing on Wednesday and our Year 4 pupils spent time with our school ducklings. We have had nature walks, outdoor sketch clubs, affirmation stations, and in Chapels, the pupils joined together to take part in mindfulness exercises to work on their breathing techniques.
Wednesday saw the start of the training for our Year 7 Wellbeing Ambassadors, who are embarking on a mental health campaign to support wellbeing across the school. They are using the ‘Worth-It Academy’ course which trains the pupils to support their younger pupils. We are excited to be able to offer this opportunity to the Year 7s and know that the pupils are going to respond well to seeing their peers take the lead on mental health.
Thursday saw National Outdoor Learning Day played out spectacularly in our beautiful grounds. I have never seen such a variety of lessons and activities and a record number of classes took to the outdoors. There was a tranquillity about the school as the pupils enjoyed the sights and sounds of spring and got creative with their artwork. From nature crowns to art celebrating the work of Andy Goldman, it was a great day of learning.
The highlight of the week for me however has to be the visit from the Dogs for Health charity who brought four therapy dogs to school for the children to meet and spend time with outside. It is a fantastic charity supporting vulnerable members of society who are lonely, isolated or struggling with their mental health. They support members of the armed forces with PTSD and help children and adults open up about mental health issues by being a trusted friend. One of the therapy dogs is also a search dog and he has travelled around the globe searching for survivors in earthquakes and disasters, so it was a privilege to have such a heroic dog on site! In Lower School Assembly, the dogs showed off their ‘counting’ skills and throughout the day they provided comfort and love to the hundreds of pupils they met.
It was not just the pupils who had support with their wellbeing. Teachers had fun with additional activities: Tai Chi, Bake and Chat, fitness work outs and sessions of physiotherapy have all been on offer to highlight the importance of a good work-life balance.
It is not much fun thinking about anxiety, but it is a very real part of growing up and living in 2023. I do hope that this week we have been able to highlight the issue and suggest ways to overcome anxiety.
Thank you to all those teachers and pupils who have helped support this special week.
Mrs L Russo
Assistant Head, Wellbeing