WELLBEING is literally at the centre of West Wallsend High, as a new mural takes shape that reminds students of the importance of being kind to themselves and each other post COVID-19.
Head teacher wellbeing Sharon Jenness said student learning support officer Andrew Smith and five students were working on the mural as one of the more than 20 initiatives taking place during the second Wellbeing Week. The theme is Be Kind.
"Because of what we've been through we just thought we really need to set time aside and make it a really special week for everybody," Ms Jenness said.
"I want students and teachers to come to school and actually enjoy being here, to look after their own wellbeing but also other people's - their friends, people they come into contact with.
"We have a lot of students who have mental health issues so if we're all looking out for each other I think that helps."
Year 12 student leadership group member Alyssa Charter-Smith asked Ms Jenness after students returned from remote learning how she could help, "because everyone needs this".
She said students had experienced a lack of connection away from classrooms and friends, plus year 12 students preparing for their HSC had found it hard to adjust to motivating themselves to get work done.
"We've tried to bring everyone together even though we could not before, that was something very important for this week," she said.
"Being able to come into school and see everyone's faces, even reaching out to younger years, it's been a great opportunity to meet new friends."
Ms Jenness said initiatives included creativity competitions, a take-home Lego Masters competition, daily random acts of kindness, a cake stall, handball competitions, rock painting, a Tik Tok challenge, skin care and make up classes and a pyjama party.
Ms Jenness said good mental health and learning "go hand in hand".
"We're always looking at opportunities where we can improve people's wellbeing," she said.
"We have a lot of external programs running and they haven't been allowed to run this term, because we weren't allowed to have volunteers or external service providers on site and a lot of students are really struggling missing out on that extra support.
"Telehealth appointments aren't as effective as face to face contact, so students are really looking forward to those programs starting again next term."
Mr Smith said the mural of two interlocking hands will be accompanied with words relating to the school's values, such as respect, responsibility and excellence.
Year eight student Ella Brown signed up to contribute because she thought it would "be fun and creative".
"It's about how everyone is always going to be there for you when you need them, you're never alone."
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