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CF 002

Guiding a school community towards wellbeing

School reflections checklist
Lockdown or no lockdown, St Patrick’s College guidance counsellor Chris Fouhy is going over and above to support the wellbeing of his school community.

A Wellington high school guidance counsellor has found innovative ways to support the wellbeing of the whole school community during Covid-19.

St Patrick’s College guidance counsellor Chris Fouhy worked swiftly to create resources to support the wellbeing of students, teachers, caregivers and whānau prior to lockdown.

An hour before schools closed ahead of alert level four, students at the all boys school were given a card with “five little tasks” to help them through the noho rāhui / lockdown:

  • Keep a routine for the day
  • Get 30min of physical movement
  • Name three good things in your life
  • Get 8-10 hours sleep
  • Do one nice thing for someone else

The ‘business card’ was designed to be able to fit into a wallet or put on the fridge and gave students the framework they needed to create structure in their day.

“It was designed to be integrated into their day, rather than just an add on,” says Chris.

As the noho rāhui progressed and students did school work from home, St Patrick’s teachers and deans expressed their concern that some students were “falling off with motivation”.

So, Chris got to work, teaching himself how to use new technology and creating a short YouTube video that incorporated humour and practical ways to help anyone who might be needing some support.

The feedback from the students was positive, Chris says, with prefects requesting to post the video on Instagram and Facebook.

Seeing the need to not only help students, Chris then created a resource for those parents and whanāu on his counselling list.

Because “you’ve got to restore yourself if you’re going to be an effective support to others,” Chris says. “Looking after yourself is as important as looking after someone else.”

His ‘gratitude flags’ initiative encouraged parents and caregivers to ask their children to write what they were thankful for on each flag, with the completed bunting pinned up in homes.

A ‘values collage’ was another initiative that asked whānau to think about their key values, write these on paper, and display the collage somewhere visible.

For teaching staff, he created a self-care check list, which included items such as:

  • Take all break times
  • Accept that life has changed
  • Exercise
  • Embrace your inner awesomeness.

As some start to go back to school, it’s important to continue to focus on the wellbeing of ourselves and others, says Chris.

Chris says the messages around wellbeing are universal too – and not limited to teachers and students as they return to school.

“We all need to be really proactive and intentional about our health. Our modern lifestyle gives us so many distractions, so we need to plan for these. It’s important everyone spends some time each day doing things that make them feel good.”

As for how his students got through lockdown, Chris is beyond proud of them.

“We underestimate their ability to bounce back. They’re a lot more resilient than we give them credit for.”

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