In this blog we are exploring how schools can use enrichment days to be proactive and boost the mental wellbeing of their young people in a fun and engaging way.
The brilliant Head of PE at Fakenham Academy, Mrs Dewson was challenged by the Sapientia Trust to create a pilot event with another school within the trust. She approached the Director of Sport, Health & RSHE at City Academy Norwich, Mr Moggan.
It quickly became clear that a traditional competition day would be unbalanced and demotivating for some of our young people who we wanted to engage.
The two subject leaders were keen to create an event where everyone thrived. They agreed on an event to boost the mental wellbeing of Year 9 girls through physical activity and teach them some useful strategies for later in life.
On the 1st of December, 2022, City Academy Norwich welcomed 15 Year 9 students from Fakenham Academy to join 15 Year 9 girls for the RISE Up Drop Down day.
All students were given a white t-shirt to make them feel included, valued and connected as being part of one big team rather than 2 separate schools and in preparation for the colour run at the end of the day.
The day started with a netball festival to promote the benefits of being part of an ‘Inclusive Team’. Mrs Dewson mixed the teams up so the young people played in their preferred position with a mix of classmates and girls from the other school.
This was a great event to start the day as the girls had to mix if they wanted their team to be successful and it helped to break down any initial nervousness around new people. The girls were brilliant in making everyone feel included and this helped them release oxytocin so that they felt connected and loved.
Our girls then did a session on building a foundation of confidence in a range of areas in their lives to help protect them during the rollercoaster of daily life.
Mr Moggan talked about Marcus Rashford who had scored two goals for England in the World Cup a couple of nights before and how confidence is important for everyone.
Our young people identified what they were good at in a range of areas in their lives such as subjects they excel at, hobbies they are good at, characteristics they display in life and roles they play such as a brilliant daughter, sister or friend.
The aim was to develop the holistic confidence of our young people rather than just focusing on one aspect.
We then explored positive affirmations as a way of building that confidence long after the enrichment day had passed.
Fitness suite fun
We then had time for some fitness suite fun where they took part in various ‘Repeaters’ and ‘Stress Busters’ to push away any stress and frustration in a safe and controlled way to widen their window of tolerance and help them feel calmer and more relaxed. This is Polyvagel theory being applied in practice.
This was particularly engaging for Fakenham students who do not usually have access to a fitness suite so this was also a good way for them to try a new activity to inspire our young people.
The punching mannequin ’Bob’ was a firm favourite with the girls and got plenty of attention as our young people released their stress and tension in a safe and controlled way.
The RISE Up mental well-being day finished with an exciting colour run so students could take part in an ‘Energiser’ & have lots of fun together.
The girls did 5 laps of the route giving them ample opportunities to be sprayed with powdered paint.
They could run, walk or cartwheel their way through the 3km route but the most important factor was that they had fun and connected with their friends while they did it.
Mrs Dewson and Mr Moggan tried hard to create a supportive environment where the girls felt cared for so that they could then seek and play.
Seeking and Play is an essential part of Panksepp’s 7 systems. When these are optimally activated we can create a balance of the 7 systems and this underpins a person’s mental health.
When there is an imbalance it underpins a person’s ill health so giving young people opportunities to seek and play in a caring environment is critical.
There were lots of happiness chemicals whizzing around and it was an activity that our young people loved to take part in.
Thank you to all the young people who took part in our RISE Up mental well-being day.
At the end of the event, all young people were encouraged to complete a short survey so we could monitor the impact.
The enrichment day got lots of 5 star ratings and we got some great feedback from our young people.
These were some of the great quotes from the girls about their day:
‘That was the most fun I’ve had in ages!’
‘It has helped me feel less stressed and more confident.
‘It made me feel included’
‘I felt closer to my friends and we all had a laugh’
‘It helped my mental wellbeing massively’
The final word
The final word goes to Mrs Dewson, the Hero Head of PE, Fakenham Academy
‘We all had such a great day. The girls thoroughly enjoyed themselves and loved the t-shirts. Both schools interacted fantastically with one another, working really well together throughout the day to boost their wellbeing.’
A flexible programme
Enrichment days could be used for targeting specific groups such as your Pupil Premium students. These are just one of over 10 ways the RISE Up programme can be implemented to meet the needs of the young people that we work with.
For example, City Academy Norwich have also implemented the programme through PE lessons, RSHE lessons, form time, extra-curricular clubs, coaching, social media content for families, cross curricular links, student voice and a staff wellbeing programme.
If you would like to find out more about how you can implement an enrichment day like this in your school then book a call here.
Why not try our scorecard to evaluate your current provision and get some tailored guidance on how to take your wellbeing programme to the next level.
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