As parents and guardians, we are constantly reminded about the mental health challenges faced by our children. A recent survey conducted by the Commissioner for Children and Young People in WA found girls are more stressed about their weight, mental health and safety than boys, with 44% of girls saying they do not feel good about themselves (The West Australian 20/02/20). We also know that by 2030 our Pre-K will be graduating from Secondary School at a time when depression will not only be the leading cause of disability as measured by Years Lived with Disability (YLDs), but it will also be the leading contributor to the global burden of disease (World Health Organisation).
As a Penrhos parent, you may then wonder about our response as a school. You could start by questioning how aware we are of the complex issues faced by our girls. You may be curious about the effort we are making to counter the significant issues facing our cohort. You may simply appreciate more information about what we are doing to help provide our students with the best possible start in life, to grow their sense of self and equip them with the emotional toolkit they need to go out into the world.
I hope that each one of our parents is asking these questions? You should be. Parents, staff and students need to work in close partnership to best prepare our girls to be ‘well beings’; we need to develop the same language and the same goals; we need to work together to achieve the same outcomes.
I believe the early years are crucial. Nurturing and responsive relationships build neural architecture and provide a secure base for safe, independent growth and exploration. In Junior School, girls develop their sense of self, learn to regulate their emotions and read emotions in others, develop their own emotional vocabulary; they develop a growth mindset and they learn to be grateful, to be empathetic. The Junior School years are a critical foundation; they are the springboard into adolescence. What could be more important than making sure this foundation is secure? How important is it to start early?
We have an exciting wellbeing initiative about to launch at Penrhos – it’s called Connect. This comprehensive, bespoke wellbeing program is designed to nurture your daughter’s emotional health, from the moment she enters Penrhos right through to adolescence. What’s more, the program will be underpinned by a developmental continuum, with clear explanations of evidence, theory and rationale for all members of the school community to work in partnership to enhance the wellbeing of all.
I want Penrhos to build on its reputation as an institution that is highly committed to enabling wellbeing, from the early years until graduation. I want Penrhos to known for being proactive, to be recognised for adding value to your daughter’s understanding of herself and the positive contribution she can make in the world. Most of all, I want our girls to feel good about themselves, to function well in school and to do good in the wider world. And I would like to ask for your help.
You will receive an invitation this week to join us in a Parent Forum around wellbeing. I would greatly appreciate it if you could join this Forum to provide us with your input into the Connect initiative. I know some of you are experts in child development and, as parents, you all have a valuable contribution to make; I welcome your thoughts and ideas, and I look forward to working in partnership with you on the program.
But it doesn’t stop in Junior School. The extensive Penrhos wellbeing focus will also be supported by an exciting new innovation, to be designed and led by Penrhos College Psychologists. Penrhos Full Circle will provide well-planned, informative and evidence-based workshops, seminars and associated initiatives to complement the Connect program in Junior School and the thrive program in Secondary School to further enhance our wellbeing proposition and to add significant value for all families across the whole College.
I wanted to take this early opportunity to personally highlight and emphasise the ways in which Penrhos is committed to working with parents to make sure you have the skills and understanding to help navigate your daughter/s through an increasingly complex world. Connect, thrive and Penrhos Full Circle will ensure a rounded and grounded framework and continuum across our wellbeing initiatives for parents and guardians, to ensure we are all speaking the same language and working in partnership towards a single common goal – the wellbeing of our Penrhos community.
Written by Wayne Revitt, Head of Penrhos Junior School.