Clonard VCAL students lead R U OK?Day

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R U OK?Day15 September 2020

The Year 12 VCAL class of Clonard College, Herne Hill, initiated a college community campaign in partnership with R U OK?Day to allow everyone to participate in a national day of action and to check in on each other’s wellbeing. The VCAL students who led the project weaved together multiple strategies in an overall campaign that included sending care packages to all Year 12 students, running photo competitions, implementing a range of practical educational resources, dressing up in yellow to show solidarity for the cause and producing a powerful collaborative video that raised awareness, engagement and action.

‘This year, R U OK?Day was more important than ever as everyone is coping with this pandemic differently. It reminded us of the importance of staying connected and checking in with others while we’re all in isolation’, said Chloe Senkans, who is part of the group of 20 Year 12 VCAL students who led the project. ‘We gained knowledge and understanding on how to support each other during these difficult times and the importance of checking in on others. This project pushed many of us out of comfort zones, for example it helped me gain confidence in leading a group. It was a special moment seeing all the projects we worked hard on come together, seeing members of the Clonard community getting involved with our activities, and it was so uplifting hearing the wonderful feedback on how well our VCAL group planned and organised R U OK?Day this year. I hope our project helped people reach out to others and seek help if they are struggling.’

While remote learning has prevented many VCAL students from engaging in applied and practical activities, Sarah Clark, VCAL Leader at Clonard College, said: ‘Our R U OK?Day project has allowed us to overcome this obstacle and created an opportunity for students to implement a campaign that empowered them to think flexibly, problem solve, and develop essential capabilities for employment and active citizenship. The aims of the project aligned with learning outcomes as part of an integrated unit of study in Senior VCAL Personal Development Skills and Work Related Skills. The project also embodied the values of Kildare Ministries and Clonard College: courage, hope, compassion, hospitality, wonder and justice.’

Kylie Power, Assistant Principal Wellbeing, expressed her pride in the VCAL students: ‘The VCAL class had to drive this student-led initiative while remote learning. They creatively came up with ways to deliver the important R U OK?Day message to our community. There were think-tanks, presentations to leadership and meetings held via video with all girls having to respond to our questions, feedback and ideas. What I am most proud of is that the students collaborated and supported each other to create such a wonderful end-product, which was achieved through a huge team effort. The importance of this message was clearly communicated to our community and was delivered with passion and purpose.’

These words of affirmation for the VCAL students were echoed by Principal Luci Quinn: ‘Our VCAL students have shown how to be leaders for their time. They have been agile in reimagining a campaign for an online space, had the courage to share personal stories which sent a powerful message to the broader community about the importance of mental health which is critical during this time of physical isolation, and were able to unite our college community with positive energy even though we were remote. By maximising technology, they were able to plan and deliver a comprehensive and meaningful event for our community that gave us all an energy boost to help us get through to the end of term. We are so proud of their efforts and the amazing work of the teaching team that enabled the girls to shine in this campaign.’

Sophie Minner, Year 12 Senior VCAL student, said: ‘R U OK?Day was such a powerful project for us to participate in. We all had perfect ideas for how we could still make this day something special for everyone under the COVID-19/remote learning circumstances. This project allowed us to gain more understanding of everyone’s situations and allowed us all to gain knowledge of the day itself and its powerful message. We had our ups and downs under the lockdown restrictions but the day, and all the different activities that came with it, brought us all so much closer. I love that we could show our school community how amazing the VCAL program is and how we can apply our skills in any format. We are a true example of lifelong learners!’