The Aquila School hosted a Student Wellbeing Forum, which focused on bringing pupils together to collaborate on effective strategies to improve mental health and overall wellbeing within their schools. The inaugural event was attended by over 80 pupils from The Aquila School, Kent College, English College, Star International School, Al Twar and Star International School, Mirdif.
The participating students discussed a variety of tactics, such as how to make new friends in a transient city, cultural differences and the pressure of social media on today’s youth.
They also discussed how schools can play a significant role in supporting student wellbeing by providing more opportunities to socialise with their peers. Students also pointed out that teachers can benefit from more open communication with student councils, as they have a better grasp on what goes around in teenage social circles. The need to put teachers’ wellbeing first and scheduling more student-teacher wellbeing meetings was emphasised by the entire group.
“At The Aquila School, we take our pupils and teachers’ wellbeing seriously. Forums such as this which bring students from across Dubai schools together, help facilitate dialogue which is imperative if we need to focus on long-term solutions. Children are immersed with information from social media these days, so it’s critical that we provide safe spaces where they can talk openly about their problems and, most importantly, how we can give them the power to put their own welfare first. We were so happy that three other ISP schools joined us, but we were also happy that Kent College pupils were a part of this forum”; said Wayne Howsen, Principal at The Aquila School.
Maria, a Year 7 student at The Aquila School, shared why the Forum was an important event for students to be a part of. She said: “I really enjoyed meeting children from other schools as it made me realise, we are all going through the same situations, and it was good to be reassured that in school and at home people really do care that I am doing okay.”
Pupils also participated in mindful activities like colouring, journaling and meditation to aid them with the necessary tools to support their wellbeing journey, as part of the Forum.
This year, Mary Rose Connolly, Deputy Headteacher, Secondary, was appointed as Wellbeing and Safeguarding Lead at The Aquila School. She spearheaded the event and shared her thoughts on the outcome. “It was simply incredible to watch young people from different contexts coming together and motivating each other to take action in their communities – I felt so uplifted at the end of the event and cannot wait to plan the next one!, ’’ she said.
Inspired by this initiative for students, Mrs Connolly now also hosts a wellbeing coffee morning every other Tuesday so that parents can come and share their ideas and struggles in a friendly and supportive environment. “We realised that if students benefited from sharing their challenges, parents might like to do the same. We are a community school, and we are working very hard to promote wellbeing in all aspects of our community,” she shared.
The Aquila School is committed to nurturing the wellbeing of their communities by sensitising and equipping children and adults to prioritise their mental health. The school is aware that, in order to thrive in an academic environment, both children and adults need to enjoy a sense of security and happiness. By creating opportunities for open dialogues between teachers and students, the school ensures clear focus on well-rounded development for all.