A sense if wellbeing will be vital as our children go back to school – Eleanor Bird

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon with Portobello High School students (Picture: Alastair Watson)First Minister Nicola Sturgeon with Portobello High School students (Picture: Alastair Watson)
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon with Portobello High School students (Picture: Alastair Watson)
This week sees the launch of the council’s pilot Wellbeing Week, the first phase of the ‘Catching Up On Learning Strategy’, in advance of the return to school on August 12.

This strategy will be implemented throughout session 20-21 and will focus on reconnecting relationships, acknowledging experiences, creating a nurturing environment and supporting our learners to build resilience.

It has been clear that this pandemic has presented our children and young people with their own particular set of significant challenges as a result of the need for lockdown – a sentiment that the First Minister has expressed when speaking directly to the younger generation in her daily briefings.

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Wellbeing Week is an opportunity for some of Edinburgh’s pupils to participate in a range of activities that promote positive mental and physical health. Most importantly, however, it allows participants to engage in how they feel their wellbeing – and that of their peers – can best be supported in their transition back to the classroom.

The week will include creative, fun sessions with art, music, relaxation and simply the chance just to socialise again. Play and outdoor learning will be a central feature of the programme, with an emphasis on opportunities for learners to be active and to enjoy and learn about their natural environment. Physical health will also be prioritised to help all children and young people replenish their energy and motivation for learning. 

There will, of course, be a variety of experiences that have defined this unprecedented period for our children and young people, and it’s vital that these are considered fully to inform our next steps with them back into sustained in-school learning.

I have taken great pride in the central role that wellbeing has played in this administration, most notably as one of three key principles outlined in our budget process in February this year.

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Earlier that month, to mark the half way point of this term of council, councillors also discussed a report on the coalition’s commitments. This included our nationally leading ‘A board’ ban and detailed proposals for reshaping and easing how people move around the city – most recently demonstrated through Spaces for People for the purposes of safe, active travel during Covid-19.

We will continue to meet our commitment to a fairer, more inclusive Edinburgh and strive to place wellbeing firmly at the heart of everything we do as a council.

It is welcome that at certain times of the year, such as Mental Health Awareness Week, we are encouraged to celebrate wellbeing and to talk about and promote it. The ethos of Wellbeing Week, however, and other similar initiatives that it follows, is to root wellbeing in our everyday.

Over recent months, we have witnessed the wealth of kindness (this year’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Week) within our communities in our children and young people in a range of ways and I’m so heartened to see them, once again, leading the way.

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