Carmel School is one of ten WA schools to be awarded a grant to participate in AISWA’s Wellbeing and Mental Health pilot project from Term 3. Health and Physical Education teacher, Ms Wendy Atkinson, has been appointed to lead this program for the School and will be working alongside the nine other coordinators, as well as an internal team, to implement this holistic approach.

The project aims to review and enhance Carmel’s wellbeing initiatives, with a strong emphasis on community engagement, by creating a nurturing environment for students and staff to develop wellbeing practices.
The grant will assist in the formation of a dedicated team to map and implement strategic plans to support wellbeing throughout the whole school.

Ms Atkinson said the grant will allow Carmel’s current wellbeing practices to be strongly enhanced in two ways: “[We will ensure] wellbeing is explicitly addressed in the curriculum for students throughout their entire schooling. In addition to this, initiatives will be applied outside of the classroom, thereby benefiting the entire Carmel community”.

In carrying out her role, Ms Atkinson will be working closely with the AISWA Wellbeing Network, which meets regularly to discuss progress and innovative ideas moving forward. These will then be discussed with the Carmel’s Wellbeing Team before being implemented.

“We are planning the implementation of a fantastic new program developed by the Telethon Kids Institute, so stay tuned for regular updates!”, Ms Atkinson said.

Carmel School’s Dean of Students and Peer Support Coordinator, Ms Shohan Taub, commented on the current opportunities students have, that centre on wellbeing themes such as positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment and good health habits.

“At Carmel, we provide many opportunities for the students to engage in these areas of development. For example, the weekly theme in our student diaries is centred on these principles, and our rich Jewish heritage and experiences provide a solid foundation for incorporating these values.”

The importance of wellbeing has been well documented through history and can be connected to Maslows’ Hierarchy of Needs (1954), which categories the behaviour of an individual into the five categories of physiological (basic) needs, safety needs, love and belonging needs, esteem needs and self-actualisation needs.

This theory conveys that those lower needs such as the physiological needs of water, food and shelter, and safety needs, must be satisfied to attend to higher needs such as esteem and self-actualisation. For students, this would mean they would have their basic needs met, allowing them to achieve their potential in the classroom.

Ms Atkinson talked about how her philosophy of teaching meets this theory - “The first step in my teaching is making my classroom, or in this case the oval, a safe space where my students can be themselves in a safe environment and then put in their best.”

Having been a part of the Carmel community for the past sixteen years, Ms Atkinson has seen the community up close and been involved in a variety of areas including peer support, pastoral care, camps and sport. “I know the community well and believe that it is important to foster a sense of wellbeing in every aspect of schooling. I am passionate about addressing this topic in a proactive manner and cannot wait to get started!”
Updates regarding the different initiatives will be communicated to parents and students throughout the year.