Donegal's first Unwind Your Teen Mind programme ended today with a celebration of local teens' inner accomplishments. DW went along to experience this new wellness workshop:
“What is the one good thing you say about yourself in the morning?” Yoga instructor Joanne Cullen asked a Deele College 5th Year class today (Wednesday).
“I am amazing,” a boy piped up, full of confidence. There was no laughter, no doubt, just acceptance in the temporary yoga space in the Deele school library.
This was the final session of the Unwind Your Teen Mind programme for the class of 16-17 year olds, who had clearly grasped the positive message they were taught over the past six weeks.
Deele College is the first ETB school in Donegal and in Ireland to adopt the ‘Unwind’ wellbeing yoga and meditation programme. Each week, students rolled out yoga mats during their PE time to practice with Joanne and create space in their minds and bodies to connect with themselves.
The classes were designed to enhance young people’s wellbeing in this busy world of stress, technology and pressure. Students were invited, but not forced, to embrace the quiet and fun sessions and were constantly encouraged to believe in themselves.
The goal of Unwind, Joanne told Donegal Woman, is “to be the full expression of yourself with a knowledge of who you are.”
It is estimated that humans have around 60,000 daily thoughts and Unwind aims to help clear young minds of negative self-talk. Joanne reminded her students to often think: “I am confident, I am amazing and I believe in myself.”
The 12 students were praised today (Wednesday, 25th October) as amazing young pioneers during a special presentation to mark the end of the first programme. Many students said they enjoyed how the yoga helped their focus and flexibility for football, while others enjoyed chilling out for ‘yoga nidra’ sleep meditation.
Joanne will work with another 5th year class group next term, before moving to other ETB schools across Donegal.
Unwind stands for six principles:
- Understanding Yoga
- Inner Knowing
The inspiration for Unwind came to Joanne when she was practicing yoga with a class of teen girls this year when she realised how much they needed a break.
Joanne said: “Nowadays, young people are bombarded with, phones, social media, exams, peer pressure and so on, and I remembered my own time at school when I didn’t have as many distractions and we still felt pressure.
“When you take time out, create space, reset, you get a glimpse of how you can create your own reality, by breathing, connecting with the body you are taking responsibility for your own thoughts, creating the best positive outlook on life.
“Each week focused on a different topic, I found with the programme that the students embraced it from the beginning, they all interacted and each week the time flew by,” Joanne said.
In Deele College, the programme was developed in collaboration with Wellbeing and SPHE Coordinator Mrs Tara Friel and PE teacher Liz Gordon.
Mrs Friel said: “I’m so delighted that the programme went so well, I knew our teenagers would love it once they tried it and I know the next group will love it just as much…I think this type of programme – reducing anxiety, breathing, taking time out, building resilience is invaluable, so important for everyone but especially our young people and I’m delighted that our school was one of the first to embrace it.”
On presentation day, Mr Danny McFadden, Deputy Principal of Deele College, said: “With Wellbeing in focus in the new Junior Cycle, this is a great opportunity for the students to get someone to come in to the school and work with them and give them the opportunity to have that time in their own space.”
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