NORTH Monastery Primary School in Cork city has encouraged healthy eating and wellbeing in its students this week in a bid to tackle stress caused by Covid-19.
Students enjoyed a market-style spread of food in the schoolyard, physical activities in the field, and yoga on the astroturf as part of the week-long health and wellbeing week.
Principal Carl O’Brien said that he and vice-principal Colin Daly, along with the school’s teachers and assistant principals Maria Carroll and Miriam Cotter wanted to support children coming back to school after its closure due to Covid restrictions.
“If a child isn’t happy and content in themselves it’s very hard for them to learn. The word we’d use for that is wellbeing.
“There would always have been a tradition here of looking after the greater needs of children, but I think now its much more thought out than maybe it was in the past since Covid especially. It has been really restrictive on young people, they couldn’t meet their friends, they couldn’t engage in activities, so what we’re trying to do is compensate for that and try to get a balance back in their lives,” he said.
Mr O’Brien said that it was a day “where we struck a balance between mentally happy, physically fit, and eating well”.
He said that the students were “over the moon with the sheer variety of activities” at the school on Wednesday and throughout the week.
“One thing we forget about being young is that children will try new foods in a school environment while if their parents asked them at home they might not be willing to try it.”
Mr O’Brien said that the week had allowed any student who may be finding Covid-19 restrictions tough to “build up that self-esteem again”.
Assistant principal Maria Carroll, who oversaw the healthy food which was set up in the schoolyard like a market for the students, said that students enjoyed healthy snacks, lunches, fruit salads, hot dinners, and yoghurts.
She said the school is “so grateful and lucky” to have had the support of Ó Crualaoí butchers, SuperValu, Cully and Sully, Glenilen Farm, Glenisk, Nourish and Jump Juice, all of whom, she said, “helped make it possible”.
Assistant principal Miriam Cotter oversaw the yoga classes for all students which she said has been “very effective” for the students’ wellbeing.
The classes have been taking place since earlier in the year over Zoom and took to the astroturf during healthy eating and wellbeing week.
Ms Cotter said that it is great to see the students wanting to take the time to relax during the classes which have also been provided to the younger Junior Infants class.
Second-class teacher Jill Kelly, who oversaw the physical activities which took place in the school field throughout the week, said that the students had enjoyed it so much that there will be one again next week as part of Active School Week.
A circuit was set up with five different activities including exercises that incorporated squats, sit-ups and lunges, skipping, ladder and hurdles, and a running track.
Teachers were given timetables so that bubbles weren’t mixing and the equipment was sanitized after each class group had finished their activities.
The school thanked parents for their eagerness to support new initiatives such as its healthy eating and wellbeing week.