Last month London Youth hosted our very first and highly successful Happiness Weekender!
The idea came from discussions between members at our Inclusion Network around how they could provide practical support to young people to strengthen their wellbeing and mental health. Building young people’s confidence, self resilience and emotional intelligence are themes we hear youth leaders bringing up time and again. Recent figures show that 69% of young people say that fear of stigma has prevented them from telling a friend about a mental health problem (Time to Change).
So London Youth decided to take concrete action to improve young people’s wellbeing, and the Happiness Weekender was created.
Hosted by one of our outdoor residential centres, Woodrow High House, our staff engaged the help of brilliant practitioners from The Museum of Happiness and Rap Association to lead a number of sessions including:
– Stress management techniques and mindfulness
– Communication and the science of happiness
– Creating raps on positive self-imagery
With sponsorship from the Jack Petchey Foundation, we were able to host 39 young people and 14 youth workers from 8 youth organisations working with a diverse group of young people across 6 London boroughs.
From the minute we kicked off with a giant group meditation session, where everyone was keen to get involved, we knew we were in for a transformative weekend. What truly struck myself and John, one of our Sports Development Officers, was just how inclusive and kind all the young people were to eachother throughout the weekend. Despite the young people being of different backgrounds and abilities, they all opened up and shared with each other, which was heartwarming to see. One young person said he’d “made friends with people that I never thought I would.”
Weekends like this, focusing entirely on improving the wellbeing of young people and youth workers, are rare. Instead of focusing on the negative stereotypes that exist around mental health, we set out to illustrate the benefits of equipping young people with the tools to be kinder, more resilient and confident in themselves.
We ended the weekend with one youth worker commenting that the “young people had grown so much over the course of two days and now they don’t want to go home!” We couldn’t agree more and we can’t wait for the next one!
This blog was written by Sara Stanton, Membership Development Officer at London Youth.