Dear family, friends, past champions, and followers of the champions program,
My name is Jas Braich and this is my second year being a part of the Champions for Health Promoting Schools Program. I was fortunate enough to be placed at Potters Primary School for the second year, and I got the oppurtunity to build on the relations I developed last year and collaborate with three teaching partners (Cole, Jordyn, Jenias). This year I have come back as a Second Year Leader and a Primary Researcher. The specific research area I am interested in is mindfulness and physical activity and its impacts on the body as one unit. This young concept of mindfulness that has been introduced in the west is growing and is known to be able to have effects on the mind, body and soul. Originally this is a Buddhist concept and the west has adopted it without the religious component. I believe that mindfulness is a quality of presence that’s innate in all human beings. Awareness is a natural and beautiful quality of being human that can’t be limited to one tradition or country. With the sole purpose to end suffering. I read this somewhere and thought wow this is a huge statement, but it is this huge statement that holds lots of power. We are all hardwired to be mindful of our present situation regardless of where the tradition originated, this is a concept that should be widely used and accepted by all humans whether it is for maintaining, or improving the mental, physical and emotional health. And with a curious mind I start my research to study its influences, originally in the general population and gradually progress towards a more clinical population.
My study is called THE EFFECTS OF MINDFULNESS AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY ON THE MENTAL WELLBEING OF CHILDREN. The purpose of this study is to investigate the role of mindfulness and physical activity on children’s well-being. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, at least 1 in 5 youth aged 9-17 years has a diagnosable mental disorder with varying degrees of impairment (ACOG, 2017). Putting those statistics into consideration, it is very important to set up a way to prevent and control such symptoms for arising in to the first place, rather than treat a diagnosed mental illness. This study will assess the wellbeing of children in grade four and five when important lessons in mindfulness and exercise at a young age are integrated into their weekly routine. These children will have received one of three conditions: mindfulness exercises, physical activity or none. I want to see how this can impact the youth and adolescents and see if applying these ideas and practices early in life can build stronger more resilient minds.
The coolest thing about my experience this year is when I came back it felt as if I had never left the island. Now it is the last week and the second last day of school. Last year this program introduced me to a what being a competent physical education specialist entails through experiential learning. This year I get to expand my knowledge and boundaries even further to grow personally and professionally. I think that I have taken the #PushYourPractice very literally and have made everything that I am doing this year very intentional. Starting with bringing all my creativity in my teaching, including using my tone of voice to help with themes, or even making up themes to keep the students engaged. Additionally, keeping my head focused on the purpose of my research and having mindful conversations with my colleagues about its applications and purpose. Lastly the one on one interactions I have had with all my students, that molded into purposeful connections has really helped shape my experience and made it that much more special for me. I believe that if we make connections we continue to teach even after we are gone.
I feel that my true purpose is to be useful to those around me, constantly thinking what I can do to drive change. Be a catalyst. This for me isnt about changing the world (although that would be great) but more about leaving it better than how I came to it. Through this opportunity I truly feel like I have started to mend my own path of building positive relationships with each and everyone that crosses my path.
I have appreciated that Dr. Joanna Sheppard has given me the chance to continue to paint my own picture of what learning should look like. I am thankful for all the relationships that I have created throughout this experience, including those with the Champions team and my fellow colleagues/students at Potters Primary. I know forming these connections with the students and teachers has left its mark on me, and I hope this feeling is mutually reciprocated on their end. Goodbyes are hard but,
“The truth is that you learn more from the things you love than the things you hate. From the broken things than the perfect ones. From the things that move on than the things that stay. And, you will discover more from the very last goodbye than you ever will from the first hello.” – The Wanderer