UCS' Heart January campaign makes for shiny happy pupils

The new year at UCS began with an invitation from the Director of Sport, Ed Sawtell, to take on the school’s ‘Heart January’ challenge.

The idea was to inspire the school community to venture forth into 2024 with a proactive and positive outlook – and, in doing so, to banish the spectre of any ‘winter blues’.

Mr Sawtell introduced the wellbeing initiative on the first teaching day of term, 9th January, which gave pupils fully 22 days to complete each of the five activities pooled under the ‘Heart January’ banner: Helping, Eating, Activity, Resting and Thinking.

With pupils encouraged to share their ideas and endeavours with Form Tutors through the ensuing weeks, Assistant Head (Co-Curricular), Sophie Bennett, quickly formed a picture of how their efforts were unfolding.

“These are some of the things people were doing for each section of the challenge,” she explained. “For ‘helping’ family, friends and community: watering the garden and weeding the flower beds; for ‘eating’ and hydrating: following a new recipe and helping parents to cook or trying something new.

“For ‘activity’ and challenge: walking to the school fields for Games rather than getting the bus, or going swimming; for ‘resting’, recovering and recharging: creating a new playlist or charging the phone downstairs and using an alarm clock instead; finally, for ‘thinking’ and developing: reading a book instead of scrolling TikTok.”

One of the many enthusiastic pupils who completed the programme was Year 7 student Ilan Driver. He added: “Heart January was a school-wide challenge to reflect and refocus on your health and well-being. This challenge included spending at least one hour on each of the five activities.

“For me, the ‘helping’ aspect spanned lots of activities from going on a walk with family and friends to donating items to a charity shop. ‘Eating’ comprised cleaning up after dinner, going meat-free or even vegan for the day. ‘Activity’ was my favourite – challenging the body to join in a local park run or walking around the whole school during morning break! The last two were ‘resting’ and ‘thinking’, which benefit mental health and what your body needs. The ‘resting’ part was pretty obvious. As for ‘thinking’, some activities were learning a new card game and completing a sudoku or crossword.”

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