“Understanding the full impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing is not yet known, but early indicators suggest the effects have been profound,”
– Dr Alexandra Barnett, a Chartered Counselling Psychologist.
It is well documented that sport will play a massive role in helping children to recover from the pandemic – socially, mentally and physically – and in response, STA, a national governing body for swimming, has been working with Dr Alexandra Barnett, a Chartered Counselling Psychologist, to create a new Wellbeing and Mindfulness Activity Booklet for children. These unique teaching resources, have been specially designed to help swimming teachers care for, and support young learners’ wellbeing and mindfulness during lessons.
Zoe Cooper, STA’s Commercial Director says: “Swimming is one of the most beneficial sporting activities for mental health and wellbeing, but it has been really hit hard by the pandemic. Millions of children have lost out on the opportunity to start or access their regular lessons over the last 12 months, and for many this will have affected their confidence and competence – and potential enjoyment of swimming moving forward. Luckily children are very resilient, but we want to make sure that the transition back to swimming lessons is one that fills young learners with confidence.
To this end, we recognise that swimming teachers will play a huge role in helping the wellbeing of young learners, and our new resources, written by Dr Barnett, have been developed to help give them the knowledge and the tools they need to be able to practise mindfulness, through play and fun activities in lessons.”
Dr Barnett explains why these new teaching resources are important and why promoting wellbeing and mindfulness is everyone’s responsibility: “Wellbeing isn’t just about coping, surviving or being ok; it is about thriving, flourishing and blossoming.
Prior to the start of the pandemic, we were seeing rising levels of young people and children being diagnosed with mental health difficulties and record numbers of children were being referred to, or seeking the support of mental health organisations.
We still do not know the full impact the pandemic has had on children’s mental health and wellbeing, but early indicators suggest the effects have been profound.”
“As with most things, prevention is better than cure, and that is why from a young age learning steps you can take to improve, support and help your mental health and wellbeing is so important,” says Dr Barnett.
“Mindfulness is a skill that is thought to be essential in supporting wellbeing, and there is a long list of documented benefits. The NHS’s 5 steps to mental wellbeing are connection with other people, being physically active, learning new skills, giving to others and paying attention to the present moment (mindfulness).
As you can see swimming lessons cover a lot of these NHS steps, and STA’s new mindfulness activities will enable teachers to provide a holistic approach to wellbeing at this most crucial time.”
“The wonderful thing about teaching mindfulness in swimming lessons is that not only will children be learning something subliminally that will actively help with their wellbeing (which helps ensure they are feeling well enough / confident to regularly come to lessons), but it’s something that will help them gain even more from their lessons, by learning to pay attention and focus,” confirms Dr Barnett.
STA’s new wellbeing and mindfulness resources, which are officially launching today to mark Mental Health Awareness (10-16 May 2021), have been specifically written and adapted to be used both in and out of the water. They also come with the added benefit of a Wellbeing Parent Pack so the skills can continue to be practised at home.
The new 17-page Wellbeing & Mindfulness Activity Booklet for Swimming Teachers has been written with children in mind, however Dr Barnett adds that the activities can easily be adapted to adults learning to swim as well. For further information, or to purchase the STA’s wellbeing and mindfulness resources please visit STA SwimShop.