What tools do you have in your toolbox to deal with stress?
This was the question posed to all Year 7 students at the beginning of the Journey of You (JOY) program, a part of the MYP Service as Action curriculum. Our Year 7 students recently experienced a week of JOY to help them discover coping strategies and pass their knowledge on to Junior School students. It is important that we provide our students with the experience of positive coping so they can find their own strategies when they feel under pressure or stressed.
Mollie Burke, MYP Service as Action Coordinator for our Glen Waverley Campus says, ‘The aim of this program is for students to become empathetic individuals who through inquiry, planning, action and reflection, develop an awareness of their own skills, areas for growth and the ethical implications of the actions they undertake to serve others.’
The JOY Program focuses on the third Sustainable Development Goal, ‘Good Health and Wellbeing’. JOY specifically focuses on improving mental health and wellbeing. Our Year 7 students were exposed to four positive coping strategies that can help reduce their levels of stress and anxiety, while promoting positive thinking and increasing their confidence levels.
Positive coping strategies include:
- Energetic (exercise, sport, dance)
- Self-calming (reading, drawing, meditation)
- Social connectedness (connecting with others)
- Shifting attention (puzzles, board games, drumming)
Students followed the Service as Action cycle, where they first began by ‘Investigating’ the need for positive coping strategies to improve mental health and wellbeing. They participated in a range of activities including hip hop, friendship bracelet making, mindfulness meditation, drumming, puzzles and board games.
Students were then put into small groups, where they had to ‘Plan’ a positive coping educational session for their peers in the Junior School. It was their responsibility to create an engaging session and organise all resources needed. Mollie says, ‘The students were dedicated to the task at hand and worked exceptionally well with their group to rehearse and fine tune their sessions.’
The third phase was 'Taking Action’, where students taught their positive coping strategies to the very excited Junior School students. ‘It was incredible to see our young people collaborate, demonstrate patience and problem solving throughout their educational sessions,’ says Mollie.
The last phase of the program was ‘Reflection’. Students evaluated the impact the JOY Program had on them and suggested improvements to the program. They also created a toolbox to include all the positive coping strategies, or tools, that they could draw upon in different situations.
Here's what our students had to say about this program:
‘My favourite activity was the African drumming because I could let my anger out on the drums which made for a fun and stress-relieving activity.’
‘The activity I enjoyed the most was making friendship bracelets because I didn't think I would enjoy it at first. It turned out to be really calming and soothing.’
‘We did some mindful colouring with the Junior School students. We chose this strategy because it gave the Junior School students as much freedom as possible with their activity while still enabling them to relax and focus on the present moment.’
Overall, the Year 7 students were impressive and should be proud of how they conducted themselves over the week. As one Junior School student left the JOY Program, they said ‘This is the best day of my life,’ says Mollie.