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Wellesley invites community to hear expert psychologist

The mental health of our youth is a primary concern to all New Zealanders. In re-sponse to these concerns, Wellesley, an independent primary and intermediate school for boys in Wellington, is taking the lead by hosting a free information evening open to all, fea-turing an expert educational psychologist who will be sharing what parents can do to en-hance emotional resilience in their children. It is on June 6th at Wellesley in Days Bay, East-bourne at 7pm.

“In this age of digital disruption, increasing pressures on children, and less time away from technology, mental and physical wellbeing must be central to how we approach educa-tion,” says Brendan Pitman, Principal at Wellesley. “At Wellesley, we take our role in build-ing wellbeing among the boys very seriously.

“Latest Mental Health Foundation statistics show one in five young Kiwis will be affected by depression or anxiety by the age of 19. Teaching boys how to understand themselves and others, and giving them strategies to cope with setbacks, is critical to their educational foundation. To aide building resilience at a young age we need to help them understand and manage their emotions,” says Mr. Pitman.

During Wellesley’s Insights evening on ‘Enhancing Emotional Resilience’, educational psy-chologist, Kathryn Berkett from ENGAGE, will be talking about the latest research in neuro-science and its impact on wellbeing and resilience. Wellesley’s Wellness Team will also share their holistic approach and will be available to discuss programmes put in place to support students.

Steve Girvan, Deputy Principal and Head of Pastoral Care at Wellesley, says that it is fantas-tic to have someone of Kathryn’s experience share with the community ways to help young people.

“We all need practical tools to navigate today’s world - kids and adults alike. But it is essen-tial we ensure children have a solid foundation and are emotionally as well as mentally ready to transition to secondary school and beyond,” says Mr. Girvan.

Realising the need to support students with more than a traditional primary and intermedi-ate education, Wellesley incorporated emotional wellbeing programmes into the curricu-lum at the start of 2018. These underpin the school’s values of risk taking in learning; re-spect and empathy; and perseverance for personal bests.

There are three strands to the Wellesley Wellbeing Programme, each building on the oth-er, and rolled out gradually throughout the year groups.

In Years 0-3 it is delivered as an interactive classroom programme with a focus on self-awareness, healthy relationships and emotional resilience.

When the boys reach Year 4, they transition to the New Zealand developed and re-searched mindfulness programme, Pause, Breathe, Smile. This programme is continued throughout Years 5 and 6.

When the boys enter their final two years at Wellesley in intermediate, they start looking outside themselves towards giving back to those around them and the community through the Wellesley Service Award – bronze, silver and gold levels.

The aim of the Award is to encourage and acknowledge the students as they engage in acts of service at school, at home, and in the community. At Year 7 and 8 the boys also explore VIA character strengths - characteristics that define what's best about people. The boys identify their character strengths through a survey and the school provides opportunities for them to develop and use their strengths. There are 24 character strengths including leadership, teamwork, creativity, humour, and kindness. When used effectively, character strengths can enhance health and overall wellbeing and resilience.

All of the year levels at Wellesley have implemented the international anti-bullying pro-gramme KiVa. This was developed in Finland and has been shown to prevent bullying and to tackle cases of bullying effectively using self-reflection, prevention, intervention, and monitoring strategies.

“We believe it is important to proactively enhance the wellbeing of our students and build their ability to bounce back and move forward after a set-back,” says Wellesley Chaplain, Libby Bloomfield. “Recent findings from scientific research have highlighted the benefits associated with higher levels of wellbeing – more creative thinking, a greater capacity for resilience, stronger relationships, and improved academic outcomes. It is now known that the skills to enhance wellbeing and build resilience can be effectively taught.

“Dr. Lucy Hone from the NZ Institute of Wellbeing and Resilience is an expert in this field and believes the skills to enhance wellbeing and build resilience can be taught. Wellesley believes primary school is the perfect time for this journey to begin and ‘wellbeing’ has become part of foundational learning,” says Mrs. Bloomfield.

Wellesley Insights ‘Enhancing Emotional Resilience’ will be on June 6th from 7pm in the Centennial Hall at Wellesley in Days Bay. There is no charge. Please RSVP to karen@wellesley.school.nz

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