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|Wellbeing has never been more important than it has been during our 100-year pandemic. It has been reported that issues relating to mental health for our young people has risen dramatically. Our youth have been exposed to issues well beyond their years, with financial, social, educational, family and outside pressures mounting at an alarming rate. It’s easy to see a physical injury and medical professionals can treat these with some level of certainty, but the mental issues remain unseen.
Over the past five years, wellness programmes for children have sprung up in many forms. From psychological strategies, to meet the rising need of mental health issues, through to preventative strategies designed to equip our youth with ways of coping better and being more resilient. At a boys’ school we face the stigmatisation of what it is to be a ‘good man’. Often categorized as someone who does not discuss their issues or problems and just gets on with things or is told to harden up.
This is certainly not the case at Wellesley. We have taken a forward-thinking approach, using age appropriate lessons, starting in Year 0/1 to help boys have a voice when facing complex problems. It begins with Random Acts of Kindness, where lessons are taught to allow boys to discover who they are, what they like and to know it is alright to be themselves. It shows them the importance of thinking about others and showing our value of Empathy and Respect.
In the middle years, we start the Pause, Breathe, Smile (PBS) programme. This group of around 10-11 year old boys, are equipped with strategies to deal with issues as they arise. It gives them the ability to ‘ground’ themselves when times are tough, in order to make rational and informed decision/reactions to situations. The techniques are grounded in psychological wellbeing and centre the mind to a place where thoughts and feelings are controlled by the child. It allows boys to understand there is a choice in their reactions to uncertain situations and be aware when something is out of their control. We all struggle at times to control our thoughts and this programme allows the boys to start at a place of choice, rather than random thoughts that may pop in their head and be unhelpful.
Our final programme is centred around older boys aged 12 and up, and helps them to understand that there is more to the world around them than their bubble. Developmentally, boys at this age become quite inward looking, being bombarded with social media and societal norms through media outlets that surround their lives. Peer pressure and puberty are key stages of their lives and they are looking to the adult males around them to see what kind of man they will become.
Wellesley implements training to help boys understand their strengths, using the VIA Character Survey and celebrating them as individuals. We encourage them to engage in a Service programme that can be used in their home, at a local, national or international level. Charity begins at home has never been truer. Our boys strive towards bronze, silver and gold service awards, where their efforts can be recognised by the school, for outward looking behaviours that use their strengths to be more positive and engaging in society. The boys love the awards and are continually broadening their horizons as they search out areas for engagement.
Wellesley embarked on this journey only a few short years ago and now the programmes have their place across the breadth of the curriculum, which staff enthusiastically engage in each day. Staff have not been forgotten in this process and we endeavor to encourage wellness through a variety of avenues. To find out more about Wellesley, visit our website at Wellesley.school.nz and read more about these great initiatives.