Amber Flag – Mindfulness and Wellbeing
The staff and children of Scoil Fhionáin have thoroughly enjoyed taking part in The Amber Flag initiative. Our Amber Flag Project Team comprises of a cross-section of our school community including both staff and students. The team comprises of 6 Senior Infants, all of First class and 4 Fifth class pupils. The Amber Flag Project Team helps promote Positive Mental Health in the school by organising a number of initiatives throughout the school year.
Details of the Team
• Co- Ordinator: Ms. Anne Marie Ryan
• Team members: Ms. Teresa Kelleher
When the committee started discussing what our school was already doing, we were pleased to the list was quite long. The process of completing the audit was fantastic to highlight what we were already doing well, what we could improve upon and what we could introduce. The activities below outline some of the initiatives that we have established throughout this school year and others that we already have in place and have improved upon in order to help promote Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing.
In September more new Buddy Benches were installed in our playground. These are beautiful brightly coloured benches that the children can sit on while in the playground. The children enjoy sitting on the benches to chat and they also know if they have no one to play with they can sit here and a friend will join them.
Reading is a huge part of the curriculum and we are lucky enough to have a set of beautiful wellbeing books for our school. These books are based on many important topics such as our feelings, friendships, kindness, honesty, courage, hope, positivity, personal hygiene, exercise and families. The children from Juniors to Third Class are really enjoying the books. They are being used as part of Literacy and SPHE.
We are lucky enough to have a fantastic walk around our school which the children love to use on a daily basis. There have been beautiful plants planted along the walk for the children to enjoy. Along with our bug hotel, there have been some new additions made this year such as some birdhouses, a hedgehog house, a bug motel and some fairy doors along the walk. The walk encourages the children to be out in the fresh air getting some exercise and focus on the present.
Thinking of others
In December children from 5th and 6th bought some gifts and created care packages as gifts for the residents of the local nursing homes and surrounding areas. This encouraged the children to think of others in our community.
Amber Flag Notice Board/Wall
Our first goal was to establish an Amber Flag Notice Board/Wall. This was our starting point as we wanted a focus area that the entire school would see. This was a great space to put the information of our upcoming events and a place to display phrases and words to remind everyone in our school that it’s okay to feel the way they feel. The committee helped to design the wall and brainstormed words and phrases that they would like displayed on the wall.
Our main project this year was transforming a storage room into a sensory room. The sensory room is loved by all and is a continued work in progress. It is enjoyed by students from all classes. The children love going into this room to have a time out from the classroom and enjoy the calming environment. See below the before and after pictures. The transformation to date is incredible and we are looking forward to seeing some more exciting changes to the room in the coming months.
Adding Colour to our school grounds
Two blank white walls were transformed into jungle scenes. The children’s faces lit up as they walked around the corner and discovered the walls. They enjoy looking at the walls every day and talking about all the different things they can see.
Mental Health Awareness Week/Wellbeing Week
The week of the 22nd – 26th March we held wellbeing week in our school. This week we started each day some meditation from Go Noodle. We also held fantastic activities such as Yoga, dance, read mindful books to the children, went on walks and practiced being present in the moment.
During our Wellbeing week, we also held a poster competition. The children designed, drew and coloured amazing posters with positive messages. They were fantastic and are proudly on display throughout the school. The winning posters will be framed and hung in our sensory room.
The children enjoy looking at all the positivity posters which are displayed throughout our school.
The whole school also united together singing our Wellbeing songs during our Wellbeing week. It was really uplifting hearing everyone singing together and spreading such positive vibes. The entire school learned ‘You Gotta Be’ by Des’ree and ‘I’d Like to Teach The World to Sing’ by the New Seekers.
We were delighted to do a Zoom call with Gearoid Hegarty (Hurler of the Year) and Seán Finn ( 3 time all Star winner) who were very inspirational speakers. Children from all classes were able to ask questions to our guest speakers. They spoke to the children about believing in themselves and never giving up even when things are hard.
Our Wellbeing week ended with our fundraising day ‘Funky Friday’. On Friday 26th of March, we hosted a non-uniform funky hair day in aid of Pieta House and raised €287. It was such a colourful day with lots of fun activities throughout the day.