Photo: Geoff McDonald and Paula Talman taking a ‘top and tail’ approach to mental health wellbeing
As part of a drive to promote the mental health wellbeing of children in schools, Cumnor House Sussex was privileged to welcome Geoff McDonald, advocate and campaigner for mental health wellbeing to their school for the day. Geoff’s expertise has led to work with the Royal Foundation (Prince William, Harry and Kate), with Pope Francis on the creation of a more sustainable and inclusive economy and with David Cameron and CEOs of Footsie 100 Companies in helping to break the stigma associated with mental health in the workplace.
Geoff spent the day reviewing the school’s recently launched iSpace Wellbeing curriculum programme for 4-11 year old children. As well as providing children with a mental health and wellbeing education, iSpace Wellbeing offers a language and toolkit to help them, their teachers and parents start the conversation about mental health.
During his visit, Geoff observed wellbeing-themed lessons which took place among different age groups throughout the school and watched the Year 7s acting out a Wellbeing play to the younger children in Years 5, 6 & 7. A highlight for the children was the presence of a ‘smoothie-making bike’ in the dining room which is used to help promote the benefits and importance of exercise combined with healthy eating. They chose their own ingredients, placed them in the blender and started pedalling – the harder they pedalled, the quicker their smoothie was made and ready to drink!
The day culminated in a talk by Geoff and Paula Talman, the creator and founder of iSpace Wellbeing, to an external audience in the school’s Theatre. They discussed a ‘top and tail’ approach to mental health wellbeing; with a focus on both the workplace and schools, who play a vital role in preparing children for their own futures in tomorrow’s workplace.
“Geoff gave us an inspiring and thought-provoking presentation, talking first-hand about his approach to creating ‘human’ workplaces that are mentally and emotionally healthy, where individuals can flourish and organisations can prosper,” commented Christian Heinrich, Headmaster at Cumnor House Sussex. “It certainly brings into sharp focus the responsibility we have in supporting the overall mental health wellbeing and happiness of the children in our care.”
As well as being delivered at Cumnor House Sussex, iSpace Wellbeing is being piloted at other Sussex schools, with the plan is to extend the programme nationally. Alongside this, an adolescent wellbeing programme called #iWonder is being piloted, capturing children in the 11-13 age group. Both programmes are delivered through the PCSHEE timetable and specifically address children’s physical, social and mental health.
For more information about iSpace Wellbeing, visit : https://ispacewellbeing.com/.