This year the JRC took on a new initiative for Coláiste Nano Nagle, the Amber Flag. The aim of this initiative is to encourage Schools to promote and actively bring about a culture change in the promotion of positive mental health within the educational system and other organisations. It is to enhance the already good work that is going on where mental health is concerned by offering an award.
Once the JRC team was established, they prepared an audit of the activities and services in the school that promote an ethos of Positive Mental Health. This allowed us to reflect on what was working well and where there were gaps. Using this information we developed our three goals:
The first of these goals was a positive mental health day, which we called Happy Mind Day. This event occurred on the 23rd January. The aims of this day were to let the students:
- Understand the 5-a-day for positive mental health.
- Recognise who their one good adult is.
- Learn some techniques to help them relax.
- Know how to stay safe on the internet.
- Get to know the people from the agencies so that they feel more comfortable going to them if needs be.
Throughout the day activities were prepared by the team for the whole school community. There were even activities for our parents that morning. Many agencies came to speak to students that day including Children of a Digital Age, Childline, the HSE, Jigsaw, the Be Well Project in Limerick Youth Service and Limerick Sports Partnership. Both STEPS and Southill School Completion programmes and a parent of the school, Stephanie, also came in to teach second years new crafts. The parents in the crochet class kindly made us our bracelets that we wore that day.
On Wednesday 14th March, the Amber Flag committee hosted a cake sale in aid of Pieta House. The aim of this event was not only to raise money for this very worthy organisation but also to raise awareness among the school community about what Pieta House does. Parents from the cookery class were very generous and made what seemed to be an endless supply of cakes, all of which were sold and the event raised €177.60 which was sent to Pieta House. Thank you to all of you that bought a bun.
Our third and final goal was to design a page for the School Journal informing students on where to get help within the school. The purpose of this competition was to reinforce to students who their one good adult is in the school. There were many excellent entries and Sama ntha Mokulena’s was the winning entry. Her poster will not only be present in next year’s school journal but it will also be displayed on the GP corridor.
To complete the Amber Flag team surveyed both staff and students to see how successful the initiative went. The team travelled to Cork on Thursday the 17th of May with their coordinators Ms. Murray and Ms. Maher.
This initiative allowed JRC students to learn how to plan events, organise their time, fundraise, sharpen their public speaking skills and lead their class groups. This leadership role will help them in managing team projects in the future and eventually the workplace. These student leaders have learned how to interact with adults in a non threatening environment while developing their interpersonal skills in communication, negotiation and teamwork.