Year 7 can be a huge year in the lives of students. As girls transition from primary to secondary school they face a range of new challenges and opportunities, along with the uncertainty that comes with establishing new friendships and finding their place at school.
During their Wellbeing Day, Year 7 students took some time out of the usual daily routine to reflect on the year so far, reconnect with themselves and be reminded of tools they can use to cope when they are feeling overwhelmed.
We spoke to the girls about coping strategies, both helpful and unhelpful, and worked with them to understand the difference and when they may be used. Our goal was to help the girls build their ‘toolbox’ of strategies and to remind them about coping strategies they may have used in the past, such as connecting with friends, dancing, reading, drawing. Sometimes with the busyness of Year 7 and a new school they may have let the things they enjoy fall away or be out of the habit of drawing on those tools.
Students also watched the movie Inside Out. We use the movie to discuss what they can do when they experience strong feelings such as sadness, anger and fear. We talked about how to recognise the physical signs that they are feeling. We also talked about ‘silver linings’ - how to find the positives in a situation, even if it feels really uncomfortable at the time. For example, being excluded from a friendship group that you value feels really uncomfortable at the time, but it can also be an opportunity to explore new friendships that may be a better fit for you in the long run.
In their final activity the students worked together to create an Island of Personality, as the character Riley, in Inside Out, depicts. The Island reflects an aspect of their life, such as family or friendships. The Islands will be displayed and may present an opportunity for the girls to see similarities and connections between themselves and those around them.
All the activities for Wellbeing Day are designed to bring the group together as a whole and create a shared language to help the girls understand that everyone has challenges and that they can learn from each other and find new ways to manage and cope.
Brooke Cooke and Jessica Connell