Donegal woman Aoibheann Gallen is on a mission to get her mindfulness meditation course onto the school curriculum.
Aoibheann Gallen, from Ballylast, is the founder of ReNew – a mindfulness, relaxation and life skills programme for young people and adults. Aoibheann is based in Stranorlar and has been successfully teaching her programme to dozens of schools across the northwest for the past two years.
Now, she has launched an app as a digital follow-on element to the six-week ReNew You programme to continue the lessons in schools.
The primary school app is the first of its kind in Ireland and contains unique meditation sessions and tools to help the children to continue the practice in school with their teacher, once the ReNew You programme is completed.
Aoibheann’s ultimate aim, she said, is to make the ReNew You programme and primary school app official with the Department of Education as an extracurricular activity.
Aoibheann said: “I am the first to provide a programme in Ireland where it is compulsory to take part in actual real-world sessions before moving on to using an app to practice. My programme is so relevant as wellbeing is an initiative currently being rolled out to schools in Ireland.
“There was a demand from students and teachers and parents for a way for the children to continue to practice mindfulness and meditation after the initial six-week programme.
“They really responded to and enjoyed the experience. I also felt that to make my programme fully effective, I needed to provide an easy to use tool to enable teachers and children to continue to build on the techniques learned in the initial programme.”
Because of the success of her ReNew You programme and now the app, Aoibheann Gallen would like now to engage with politicians seeking Government support to make it formally part of the school curriculum.
“My overall mission is to make ReNew You mindfulness meditation programme for children compatible and an official part of the school curriculum in Ireland in some capacity, as there are proven health benefits and the children just love taking part in the ReNew You programme.
“I am building an analytical report of quantitative data through the use of the app to support all the positive feedback I have received from teachers, pupils and parents. I intend to use this data to prove that my programme is having a positive impact on children and to make a case to the Departments of Education and Health for its formal inclusion in the school curriculum.”
Ms Gallen’s programme also addresses the impact that excessive use of social media can have on children’s mental health.
“Anxiety and depression are being increasingly linked to excessive social media use. YouTube is a social network, which is used by a lot of children and a Facebook for children is being rolled out soon which is a scary thought.
“My app shows children that an app can be used in the background as opposed to being a distracting medium. The experience allows people to focus on themselves and the world and people around them actively,” she said.
“I have plans to provide my programme to secondary schools, which will include an app. my ReNew You secondary school programme is suited to the needs of teenagers which includes teaching them unique tools and techniques on how to respond to life, relax and deal with stress, my secondary school programme complies with the Junior Cycle Wellbeing Initiative.
“If teachers would like more information about the ReNew You primary school Programme please visit: www.facebook.com/ReNewYouMindfulnessMeditation or email firstname.lastname@example.org”