Shanganamore NS Barrowhouse has become the first school in Laois to receive a Health promoting Schools Flag, presented for their efforts to make lasting healthy changes in schools and their surrounding communities.
The principal Pauline Lawlor felt it was important to get involved in the initiative to instill healthy habits early in life.
“Health education at a young age is imperative in schools because it has benefits for life. Many programmes are encouraged in schools but it is important to focus on this kind of learning because it is not just academic, it also has a lasting impact on the students.
The children enjoyed classes on wellbeing, Zumba and a 5k in just one
active week, and the school plans to continue the programme for many years.
“The school felt that given the age in which we live in where students spend a lot of time on computers, doing very little or no physical activity, it was very important to encourage and supportsuch a programme.
The children were encouraged to become physically active and mindfulness was encouraged throughout the programme.
“It wasn’t just the students that got involved, parents, teachers and the whole Barrowhouse community took part. It was just as important for the adults involved to experience positive mental and physical health as the children,” said Ms Lawlor.
Shanganamore NS celebrated the great occasion on flag day in a healthy mode, with a walk for students and parents, followed by healthy refreshments.
"The students really enjoyed the occasion and were proud of their achievement. They commented on how great it was to try so many new activities throughout the two years such as yoga, Zumba and also exploring mindfulness.
Many of the students felt it made school much more enjoyable and they became closer not only with other students in the school but also with the teachers. We hope to continue this great work throughout the coming years and hope the children will carry these lessons throughout their lives," said the principal.
The Healthy Ireland-Health Promoting Schools’(HPS) Flag’ is presented by the HSE to schools as an acknowledgement of their work in improving the health of their school communities.
Students, staff, parents and guardians were consulted to identify priority health areas. Over a period of around 2 school years, schools develop an action plan to address the health areas identified.
European research has shown many benefits of this type of whole school approach to health, such as increased self-esteem, safer and cleaner school environments, lowered incidences of bullying, a positive approach to health issues, increased parent involvement and better student/teacher relationships.
By Cathy Lawlor