“Your Health is Your Wealth” is an EU-funded bilateral Erasmus plus project between two secondary schools: Framhaldsskólinn í Austur-Skaftafellssýslu (FAS) in Iceland and Liceum Ogólnokształcące nr VII (LO nr. VII) in Poland. The project leaders met at the eTwinning forum. After exchanging emails we found out many similarities between our schools despite considerable differences.
LO nr VII is a large school in the fourth largest city of Poland while FAS is one of the smallest secondary schools in Iceland. We discussed ideas we would like to explore and discovered we share similar concerns about our students’ stress related problems and willingness to improve their general wellbeing. We concluded we both wanted to create a programme which will tackle the most common problems teenagers face (school, peer and home pressure, addictions, poor self-image, concentration problems, tiredness, depressive moods, lower school achievement etc.). An idea of a holistic approach to health and well-being inspired us to develop a program which will aim at changing students’ attitudes to life and its challenges.
Since 2011 most secondary schools in Iceland have worked together on a program promoting healthy lifestyle for students on the upper secondary level. This program is run in cooperation with the National Directory of Health in Iceland. Each year one basic proponent is highlighted such as; nutrition, mental health and physical activities. Our project is partially based on this program.
The project started officially at 1st of September 2015 and will run until 31st of August 2017. According the plan there will be 12 participants in each country each year. The criteria for their selection will include language skills, the degree of involvement in project activities and students’ initiative. The students participate for one year in the project. Therefore more students will have possibility to partake, altogether 48 students during the project duration.
The groups will work on different tasks that all aim to strengthen the individuals. The highlights of the students work will be study visits to each other’s country. Emphasis is placed on student’s activity and the projects visibility. We want to show as much as possible of the project work on our web page http://health.fas.is/.This page is open and free to use for everyone.
Who are the participants?
Liceum Ogólnokształcące nr VII is located in Wrocław, the fourth largest city Poland with population of 630.000. It is a secondary school with over 850 pupils aged 16 to 19. It is a three-year school with classes specializing in biology & chemistry, humanities, CT & maths. The school shapes awareness of national and European citizenship and stimulates development of communication skills. Another area of school priorities is legal education of youth to provide deeper understanding of the world and also activating the youth community to undertake tasks and initiatives going beyond school curriculum. The school provides the students with the opportunity of studying foreign languages such as English, German, French and Russian. The school promotes various activities and initiatives aiming at opening young people for the needs of others. The school has a well-functioning voluntary unit, which works for the local environment but also extends its activities beyond its frame. Charity events are part of school’s life but also our work involves supporting a number of charities within and outside the country. The activities include organizing concerts for charity causes, raising money for children’s oncology centre usually by selling cakes made by students, collecting clothes and food for countries affected by natural disasters. Also, every December students get involved in Amnesty’s annual global letter writing marathon for people whose basic human rights are under attack. The school takes different initiatives to support underprivileged city citizens supporting disabled people in their needs and struggles. Undertaken actions aim to open young people’s minds to the problems of the contemporary world. Through being involved in charity actions pupils develop attitudes of compassion, empathy, kindness or gratitude. Practicing positive behaviours as part of voluntary work helps reduce stress, strengthen relationships, builds resilience and mental health.
The upper-secondary school Framhaldsskólinn í Austur-Skaftafellssýslu (about 160 students) was founded 1987. It is situated on the south-east coast of Iceland not far away fromthe largest glacier in Europe, Vatnajökull. The school is in the town Höfn (population 1800) and is about 450 km away from the capital Reykjavík. The town and the county (total population 2200) are geographically rather isolated, the next village to the east is one hundred km away and the next to the southwest it two hundred km away. A large part of the county is part of the national park Vatnajökulsþjóðgarður, which is the largest national park in Europe (about 12.800 square kilometres which is about 13% of the total area of the country). The main industry in the town is fishing and fish processing. Tourism is also very important for the county and has been growing substantially the last years. The school was first located 7 km away from the town but moved to a new building 2002 and it is a multipurpose building. It houses: the school, the library of the town, a branch of the University of Iceland, a consultancy for entrepreneurs and a facility for distance learning. The main purpose of the school is to serve the community. Pupils at the school can major in science, social science or languages. The courses offered at school are also partly based on the needs of the community. For example there are special courses for see engineers. A new course offers a mountaineering instructor training where a large part of the study takes place outdoors on the field. The last years the school has placed emphasis on man’s connection to nature. Students participate in various field trips, e.g. glaciers measurements, bird counting and researching progressing of vegetation. There are about 160 students in school and most of them are between 16 – 20 years old. There are a few students with special needs who receive adequate training.
What do we expect?
The Project: “Your Health is Your Wealth” will be a response to the needs and objectives determined by the school management, teachers and students of FAS and LO nr VII in Wrocław. Each partner school will bring to the project their best practices. The main goal is to create a programme which will attempt to integrate mindfulness skills and strategies into today’s classrooms. Also, the project strong foundation is based on promoting health-related attitudes such as proper nutrition and physical exercise in our school communities and beyond.
The exchange of experiences and working methods within the project and their expansion by new components (.b – stop, breathe and be course for students, mindfulness training for teachers) will facilitate development of a totally innovative educational programme, which will help adolescents handle stress better and respond more skill fully to negative thoughts and emotions. In consequence, their attention skills will increase and learning efficiency will improve. Through the course of this project, the students will develop and enhance a range of entrepreneurial skills and competences that will enable them to be active and successful members and contributors to society and workplace.
The impact of the project will be seen through the use of the innovative programme in both partner school and also in other educational institutions. The work on the project will bring long term benefits. The project will raise students’ awareness of the importance of taking responsibility for our own health and life. People who are today’s students will become future leaders in the communities and societies. As future leaders they will promote healthy lifestyle, European cooperation, partnership and integration.
How will we work – what do we want to tackle:
The partners anticipate the achievement of numerous results, described extensively in the application. Here are some of them:
– Acquiring new competencies through the exchange of experience with the staff of the partner school
– Performing the tasks created by young people in the project (acquiring numerous competences connected with enhancingstudents’ wellbeing, video clips on healthy lifestyle and physical activities, etc.)
– Breaking down communication barriers
– Opening up to other cultures
– Acquiring entrepreneurial skills
-Personal and professional development based on acquired skills
-Creation of the programme facilitating learning processes by increasing attention skills and lowering stress levels
– Making this programme available to other schools and via the Internet to wider audiences.
-to familiarize with the educational system of our partner school as well as their experience concerning health protection actions
-to exchange best practices in order to improve the educational offer of our schools
-to acquire and broaden the knowledge and skills concerning pro healthy lifestyle
-to acquire the knowledge related to stress and techniques of coping with it
-to learn mindfulness techniques such as „stop, breathe and be“ and promote them in school community
-to acquire the knowledge and skills to educate leaders of health promotion at schools among teachers and students
-to adopt mindfulness –based approach to improve the quality of teaching and make the learning processes a joyful experience
-to integrate informal learning into educational work to optimize teaching methods and stimulate holistic growth of each student
-to improve foreign languages and ICT skills
In our work we will use: workshops, training courses, group work, discussions, brainstorming, visits to the partner schools, observation, interviews, activity and documentation analysis. We also place emphasis on valuation in all steps of the project.