Following a successful Health Action Project, we were recently invited back to Hodge Hill College to deliver a health workshop to Years 7 and 8.
Gateway’s workshop, along with sport, art and sex education workshops from other organisations, was organised as part of the school’s “Safe Day” programme.
Safe Day is designed to raise awareness and equip students with strategies to discourage them from entering into risky behaviours. This is particularly important during the school holidays, when their routine is different from the norm.
Our team delivered an interactive workshop covering health and wellbeing – in particular, stress management. It was designed around an evidence based government strategy, “Five Ways to Wellbeing“, which aims to improve mental wellbeing. We adapted the strategy to tailor it for 11 and 12 year olds and get them thinking about their stress levels and emotional wellbeing.
The Five Ways to Wellbeing that we worked through with the students were:
We talked about networks and supportive relationships. We asked: “who are the people you can rely on?” We asked pupils to think about who they go to for support in different areas of their life – for example, parents, teachers and peer groups.
We asked students to think about what they can do every day to be more active. We shared facts about activity; for example did you know that ten minutes of exercise each day makes you more alert? This can help with your mental wellbeing and lower your stress levels.
We talked about the importance of taking more notice of yourself (some people call this mindfulness). We asked pupils to think about what happens when they feel stressed – not just physically, but how it makes you feel. We worked together to come up with strategies for dealing with stress.
Evidence says that doing something for someone else, with no expectation of anything in return, impacts on the parts of the brain that release “happy” chemicals. We asked students to think about how they could do something for someone else and so improve their own wellbeing.
Learning makes you more aware of your surroundings, builds confidence, and so improves mental health. We held a Mental Health Quiz for the students, with some fun “True or False” questions to get them thinking.
We held two lots of five one-hour sessions each day for two days, and each group included 25 pupils. So across the two days we worked with around 500 students!
Mrs Susan Dancer, the Deputy Head Teacher, said: “Thank you so much for coming in and supporting Hodge Hill College during our end of term Safe Day programme. We know the students enjoyed the opportunity of working with people from outside of school. […] Whenever I popped in, the sessions seemed to be going well and all the students were engaged with the activities.”
Work experience for a Gateway volunteer
Michelle, Susan and Sarah, who delivered the workshops, were ably supported by a Gateway Volunteer.
Godlove (left), who has been volunteering for the last six months as a Befriender, is currently completing a City & Guilds employability qualification with Gateway and needed some extra work experience as part of the qualification. So we asked if he would like to come along to the school and support the workshop delivery. This gave him a full day’s work and made up his required hours of experience.
He said, “I’ve been volunteering at Gateway to gain experience for future employment and so far I’ve met many people and made lots of friends. I really enjoyed the experience at Hodge Hill last week. The children I worked with were happy and worked well with me.”
Susan was impressed with Godlove’s professionalism. “Working with years 7 and 8 presented a lot of challenges, but Godlove was positive and professional at all times. He organised himself excellently and approached everything with a smile.”