NEWS

Wellness Ambassadors help shape culture of care at Stamford American International School, Singapore

Happy students learn better, and a school wide focus on wellbeing leads to greater happiness.

That’s why Stamford Elementary School created the wellness ambassadors program, which initially began as a co-curricular activity (CCA), to teach students about the importance of wellness. Teachers selected student ambassadors to harness the power of student voice to advocate for wellbeing among their peers.

The CCA has since evolved into a larger initiative that includes several programs to improve wellbeing at school.

One of the most impactful programs is Chimp Management, a mind management model developed by author Steve Peters. The model helps simplify and explain how our brains work and offers strategies for individuals to learn how to use their brains to their fullest potential, said Deputy Principal Mark Williams.

Elementary students are taught basic neuroscience – simplified into the human and the chimp. The first component represents your true self, which can decide how you want to live your life, while the second component represents a primitive internal system that we cannot control.

“We all have an inner chimp that we cannot control, but we have to learn to calm down,” said third-grade wellness ambassador, Hayden LaFleur. “For example, I have a little sister who often makes me angry because she tends to break things. But instead of letting my chimp get angry and lash out, my human self has realised that I can control my emotions and find a solution to the problem.”

Understanding emotions

Research shows that individuals learn effectively only when their social and emotional needs are met. Fifth-grade teacher Lia Chumtong believes that wellbeing should come before anything else.

“We need to teach our children to recognise and label their emotions so they can respond to them in a positive way,” she said. “When they understand their chimp, they can take responsibility for their actions and even recognise actions they regret without feeling judged or threatened.”

Wellness ambassadors completed several after-school workshops, including one based on author Andy Cope’s book, The Art of Brilliance, where they learned the power of positivity. They discussed positive values like gratitude and the importance of random acts of kindness.

“We try to help as many people as possible have a good day,” said third grader Naomi Swann. “I have learned that when you give someone a smile, they give someone else a smile, and it creates a ripple effect of happiness.”

The wellness ambassador program ties into a school-wide goal of creating “a culture of care.” This includes an initiative called “Someone for Everyone,” where school staff surveyed students to ensure that each one had a trusted adult at school – and responded when they didn’t. It also includes the introduction of a digital tool called Skodal which allows teachers to collect regular data on how students are feeling and any struggles they may be facing.

Looking ahead to next year

Next year the elementary school will expand its advisory program from 15 to 30 minutes in the morning to include time for more thorough check-ins and targeted instruction about managing emotions. The school will also host Chimp Management and The Art of Brilliance workshops for parents. The goal is to create a common language that teachers, students, and parents can use both inside and outside of school.

“If you understand your emotions and have emotional literacy, you can learn much better – and that’s our foundation,” said Mark Williams. “Wellbeing is key to helping students emotionally and academically.”

We are so proud of this fantastic Wellbeing initiative at Stamford American International School, Singapore!

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JUN 9   /  
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