Paws for thought as Blackfriars focuses on wellbeing

Some very special, four-legged visitors have help launched Blackfriars’ 2023 Wellbeing program.

Libby, Smoke, Murphy and Riley – together with their humans, Bronwyn, Hilding, Michaela and Lisa, from Delta Therapy Dogs – last week spent time with our students in one of four sessions delivered to kick off the specialist Year 12 program.

Director of Wellbeing Anthea Osborne said, across the school, pastoral care and wellbeing were “pivotal in ensuring that we actually prepare the boys for life after Blackfriars”.

“The thing that makes us stand out as a school is that we’re very much focused on holistic education,” Ms Osborne said.

“So many industries now are looking for soft skills and our ability to be able to connect with other people. Those skills, in some respects, are often more important than the knowledge we have.”

In 2023, Blackfriars’ Wellbeing program will encompass four themes – Relationships and Meaning (Term 1), Health (Term 2), Mental Health (Term 3) and Positive Citizenship (Term 4).

“A pastoral care and a wellbeing program is essential … to be able to acknowledge that we have all different parts to us and we need to make sure that our health, our spiritual life, our mental health, our physical being are all developed, just as much as the focus that we have on study,” Ms Osborne said.

“That is why the Dominican Pillars are so important, because they very much target those sorts of areas that we look at in Wellbeing.”

The Year 12-specific Wellbeing program was also a point of difference for Blackfriars.

“It’s a value-add in a year where, for Year 12s, there are so many different things happening,” Ms Osborne said.

“Having that one-on-one focus just for Year 12s, where we can look at a variety of different things, we think is imperative. It probably sets us apart, again, from other independent schools, who may not be putting aside that time every week for their Year 12 students.”

Last week’s Year 12 Wellbeing program launch included:

  • a workshop with Dietitian Reegan Knowles, who spoke about how food influences mental wellbeing;
  • tips for maintaining a positive body and mind through meditation;
  • an introduction to pilates for the physical, mental and spiritual practice of “stilling the mind”; and
  • therapy dogs for improving mental and physical health through connection.

Other sessions planned for this year included visits by a sleep specialist, Encounter Youth and the Pat Cronin Foundation.

Delta Therapy Dogs volunteers (from left) Bronwyn Cameron, with Libby, Hilding Hanna, with Smoke, Michaela Von der Borch, with Murphy, and Lisa Kociolek, with Riley, outside the Aquinas Centre.


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