Emotional focus at St Mary’s school wellbeing day

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St Mary’s Catholic Primary Erskineville drew inspiration from Pixar animated film Inside Out for a whole school wellbeing day led by Year 6 students.

The film personifies emotions including joy, fear, and anger inside the mind of a young girl who has moved to a new school and home. It was a springboard to help St Mary’s students talk about their own emotions and for other wellbeing-centred activities including cooking classes, meditation and yoga sessions held on May 19.

Assistant Principal Emma O’Driscoll said the day was a way to launch the KidsMatter initiative at the school in a way that made the initiative to promote wellbeing and positive mental health exciting and visible to the whole school community.

It was great just to get the kids excited and aware we are doing something around wellbeing without just reading things on paper.

– Emma O’Driscoll

Students wore casual clothes and took part in eight activities ranging from yoga to ‘circle solutions’, where students took turns to answer questions and speak about their emotions while the others in their groups listened attentively.

“The kids might get asked a question like ‘When was a time you felt fear? or ‘When are we sometimes scared?’ Then we go around the circle and each of the students has a chance to talk, or to pass if they don’t want to talk,” Ms O’Driscoll said.

“It was great just to get the kids excited, talking about it and aware we are doing something around wellbeing without just reading things on paper.

“They’ve all made videos as well that they’re sharing at home with their families about the different emotions. The whole community had an opportunity to get involved.”

School captains Joe Woolford and Hannah Keogh and vice captains Imogen Gill and Mitchell O’Grady helped lead the activities with their Year 6 peers.

“We did yoga to help relax,” Joe said. “I think the day was good because we themed it on a movie which made it fun and showed how emotions control what you do and your wellbeing.”

Imogen said the Year 6 students pre-prepared fruit including kiwifruit, banana, mandarins, blueberries and dates to make healthy snacks of fruit skewers and bliss balls.

“My favourite part was teaching the other kids how to make things,” she said. “There were lots of different ideas about wellbeing. Some groups talked about the different emotions and how they felt when they were doing all of the activities.”

Hannah said the best part was considering different emotions and learning how to not be overwhelmed by them.

Mitchel said Year 6 students also made show bags with extra healthy recipes, colouring-in sheets to promote mindfulness and a door hanger with information. “One group did a video of emotions, pretending to be them. That was fun,” he said.

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