College putting wellbeing of students in the spotlight

Rhianna Hornsey, Belinda Jenner, Stacey Turner and Kirsty Armstrong from the Welwyn Garden City cam

Rhianna Hornsey, Belinda Jenner, Stacey Turner and Kirsty Armstrong from the Welwyn Garden City campus students union and OakExtra team in the new Wellbeing Centre. - Credit: Archant

An annual initiative aimed at encouraging students to actively engage in good health and mindfulness took place at Oaklands College in line with the It’s OK To Say campaign.

The Wellbeing Week took place between November 26-30, and saw students take part in a number of events run by the OakExtra team at both the St Albans and Welwyn Garden City campuses.

OakExtra is a social hub offered by the college for everything that students can take part in outside of their classes as part of their college experience.

This includes sporting activities, meeting new people, developing new friendship groups, working on social and communication skills, helping students with their CV writing, organising work experience placements or getting involved in enrichment activities such as arts and crafts, workshops and a wide variety of social groups.

Oaklands College used Wellbeing Week as the perfect opportunity to bring students closer to the OakExtra team, working together with personal development teams, The Edge work experience unit, and the OSU (Oaklands Student Union).

The Active 8 sports facilities in the new Wellbeing Centre, the college’s state of the art personal fitness facility in WGC, are aimed at encouraging students to get more active inside and outside of college by promoting good health, lifestyle choices and using equipment to determine the condition of key core areas of their bodies such as body mass index, endurance, cardiovascular fitness, body fat percentage, strength and balance.

The college’s aim is to support students’ mental and physical wellbeing, in line with the It’s OK to Say campaign run by local anxiety specialist Stacey Turner in conjunction with the Herts Advertiser, which encourages people of all ages to speak out about mental illness, confiding in others and surrounding themselves with supportive networks who are there to help.

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Encouraging students who are overloaded and struggling to cope with the profuse amount of studying, coursework, and work-llife balance associated with education, OakExtra teamed up with ‘Stress Less, Relax to the Max’ meditation sessions to offer students a safe space to escape to and discover a variety of stress management techniques, including feeling positive and methods to overcome negative thinking.

Additionally, in the build-up to Wellbeing Week, the college invited drugs, knife and gun crime activist Paul Hannaford to visit the St Albans campus to speak to students about the perils of drugs and the dangerous road it can take addicts down.

After spending over £1.5 million on drugs throughout his lifetime, stealing up to £5 million of goods from stores to fuel his addictions and regularly teetering on the brink of death, Paul is now over 10 years clean and sober and has restored his relationship with his family, including his daughter, who plays a prevalent part in his harrowing story.

Since turning his life around, Paul has travelled all across the country to hundreds of primary and secondary schools, youth centres, young offenders units and a variety of professional football clubs as part of their football in the community projects.

As part of her work with It’s OK To Say, Stacey visited the Wellbeing Centre last week to see first hand what Oaklands College has been doing to promote good mental health.

“I wanted to find out more about the amazing work this dedicated and strongly focused on mental health team have achieved.

“With funding achieved from Sport England, the Wellbeing Centre consists of a gym and relaxation/studio room for mental health and tackling inactivity.

“This passionate team is focused on student well-being. They are forward thinking and are so excited in working hard to achieve more for both students and staff. They really do have a lot to celebrate!

“I look forward to visiting again during Mental Health Week to see what’s happening and hear more future plans.

“Another inspiring organisation to have under the umbrella of It’s OK To Say.”