“I LEARNED you can’t love anyone else until you love yourself.”
Six year-old Cooper Butler was clear and to the point when he talked about a mindfulness program all 43 students at Walla Public School have now completed.
Cooper and five other students spoke at an assembly on Tuesday that celebrated the positive changes seen since Walla became a mindful school.
Mindful Warrior creator Anna Gannon, of Wagga, oversaw weekly sessions last term that taught strategies, like deep breathing, to help students better understand their emotions.
Principal Helen Duncan said just as the body needed sleep, exercise and good nutrition, the mind required periods of calm and stillness.
“It is very difficult in this technological age where everyone is in a state of business and urgency,” she said.
Mrs Duncan said increasingly research showed becoming a mindful school was a long-term investment into good mental health.
“The students are able to recognise their feelings and acknowledge why they are feeling this way and know that it is OK to express these feelings,” she told parents.
“It is my hope that your children when they face difficulty, who have made mindful practices a life-long daily habit, will recognise that stuck feeling and with self-care and self-love will be able to show resilience and know what to do next.”
Mrs Duncan said some people had been unsure about the program at first but the responses became more and more positive as it progressed.
Year 6 student Tabitha Le Busque, 11, originally thought the program might be a waste of time.
“But it wasn’t,” she said. “I actually learned a lot about myself like how I used to be very doubtful and I let people stop me from doing what I want to do.”
As a fellow student put it, “mindfulness has taught me not to be jealous and to be kinder to myself and my thoughts and to know that it’s OK for me to be myself”.
Jessica Holmes, 12, of year 6, said the program had highlighted appearance, clothes and other people’s comments didn’t matter.
“I don’t need people to judge me for who I am,” she said.
In her speech, Miss Gannon quoted Aristotle – Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.
“I’ve seen so much growth in these children and tools for the foundation of a successful future from inside out,” she said. “Emotionally matured, getting on with each other in the playground, being able to articulate how they’re feeling, being able to communicate better, better able to concentrate more in the classroom.”