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Teaching the next generation wellbeing

30 September 2022

Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury (UC) students put their theory into practice when passing on valuable wellbeing knowledge to over 100 Ilam School students this week.


The contagious energy of University of Canterbury students made learning about wellbeing fun and easy for Ilam School students (left to right: Josepf Taylor, Cinnamon-Rose Meyer, Michelle Andrews, Brianna Labudde, Abby Kettles, Shontae Bingle and Behzad Dowran).

After learning about the Five ways to Wellbeing in their Building Resilience class last term, UC Te Kaupeka Oranga | Faculty of Health students had the opportunity to give back to the community and teach the younger generation about wellbeing. After many hours of planning, the students put together an interactive two-hour session full of age-appropriate activities around wellbeing.

When talking about personal learnings from organising a programme like this, UC student Siobhan Regan says she learned about the fundamentals of managing a large group of people.

Child at play

“Not everything is going to go right all the time, so [it’s about] not getting caught up in the moment and being able to stop and breathe. It helped me for my future goal of running my own business and knowing I can run an event like this gives me confidence in myself.” 

Recent data shows that over a quarter of children in Aotearoa New Zealand will experience some level of physical or psychological bullying during school years. According to the Ministry of Education | Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga, prioritising student wellbeing by building a safe, caring and inclusive environment, is central to preventing and responding to bullying. 

Ilam School students were divided into groups to learn about each wellbeing pillar: Take notice, keep learning, be active, give and connect.

The morning was filled with lots of movement and drawing activities, and a tonne of fun and laughter.

Through these activities, children learned why connections with others help us feel like we belong and feel supported, that exercise makes us feel good, that giving and receiving compliments creates a positive environment, how to express their emotions through their actions and creativity, and that taking notice of people and the environment around us is important.

“It’s amazing to see the students out there interacting and putting theory into practice. A lot of work went into this,” says UC Senior Lecturer Dr Wendy Maddocks, coordinator of the Building Resilience class. “It just fit so well with Mental Health Awareness Week, too.”

While teaching helpful wellbeing skills to the children, the UC students also developed important skills they will need as future health educators or health promoters.

“The day went really well. It was fun, we had some beautiful hot weather, the Building Resilience class did an awesome job and really embraced working with the students at Ilam School.” Regan says.

The Building Resilience course develops students’ understanding of models of best practice in mental health education and promotion that are designed to enhance their own and others’ mental health.

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