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Wellness Wednesday – 29 April 2020

Wellness Wednesday Weekly

Issue 1 Volume 1
Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Press Pause

Greetings UWCEA Community,

Welcome to the inaugural issue of our weekly newsletter completely dedicated to promoting well-being in our community. As we settle into a (temporary) new normal, we want to take time to share resources to help create balance and encourage social and emotional development while we all participate in Distance Learning at various places around the world.

We hope that you continue to access the COVID-19 Counselor Resources that have been compiled since the pandemic reached Africa, and is constantly being updated. The document now has a linked Table of Contents to provide ease of use.

With so many resources in the document linked above, we wanted to use this weekly message to highlight key items we hope will provide support to you and your family as you thrive in these uncertain times.

Let’s start with the reality that this is not a new idea, and even the International Baccalaureate Organization recently recognized the importance of focusing on mental health and wellbeing as a part of their rigorous curriculum. In a journal produced last year ahead of the IB Global conference, they highlighted the benefits of practicing mindfulness and other techniques to support healthy social and emotional development of IB students. Click here to read this publication.

The importance of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) in schools has been around forever, but it’s prominence in the academic setting is once again being highlighted as a critical part of a successful educational experience. As we seek to develop young people who will gain the skills and strategies necessary to be successful adults, we cannot neglect the importance of teaching SEL with the same energy that we put into teaching core content. This happens on a daily basis in subtle and direct ways in our classrooms, but now that task has been shifted to the home on a full time basis. This is not always easy for parents who are dealing with their own stressors and concerns, but we encourage you to take some time to explore ways to infuse SEL in your home learning experiences. We know that parenting involves SEL, but we wanted to provide some tools and resources to help you with approaching this task strategically. Please take a look at the recent blogs by SEL expert and self-proclaimed “Emotional Scientist” Dr. Marc Brackett, to learn more about the ways you can explore your own SEL, while you also help your child in becoming more attuned to their emotional wellbeing. Link to Dr. Marc Brackett’s blog here.

This week’s newsletter is title “Press Pause” because we want to encourage everyone to take some time to do that on Friday when we all enjoy a well-deserved day off. Friday is Labour/Worker’s/May Day here is Tanzania (and in many other parts of the world), and there will be no school on 1 May (please see the school calendar). We invite all families to unplug and unwind for a day to regroup in preparation for the work to come over the course of our final quarter of the academic year. This is also a good time for our students to learn/relearn the reason behind this holiday and create/recreate traditions for recognizing the meaning of this day.

As we invite you to press pause on Friday, we also want to introduce you to the celebration of Mindfulness in May. Since May is typically a stressful month filled with examinations and ensuring that students have learned all required curriculum for the year, this month is always a great time to review/introduce the concept of mindfulness. Throughout the month, we will share resources focused on building your capacity for mindfulness, but for now we invite you to explore these two items:

Prince remains one of my favorite artists of all time, and this quote really struck me as something that we all can focus on during this pause in our regularly scheduled lives. Over the course of our school closure, our students have continued to explore their creative sides in ways we can’t help but be excited to celebrate. Here are just a few examples of ways our students are using this time to create new experiences for themselves and others:

Finally, we can’t help but be grateful for all of the expertise that exists at a time such as this. We know you all are inundated with emails and social media, so we will try our best to limit the volume of information we send your way from external sources. There is an event coming up next week that may be of interest to some of you as you try to figure out next steps for your children under these circumstances. Typically, we deal with the learning slide over the long break at the end of the school year, but realistically, some families are starting to deal with it now. Next Thursday at 1:00PM EST (8:00PM EAT), there will be a webinar focused on ways parents can help their child stay motivated and continue to grow during the pandemic. The event is titled, “How Parents Can Help Stem a “COVID-19 Learning Slide,” and it is sponsored by the ACT (yes, the testing people). Please consider registering for this event, and share ideas amongst each other as we all benefit from support during times of uncertainty. Link to register for the webinar here.

Take care and continue to persevere,
Cassandra Ford on behalf of your UWCEA Wellbeing Committee