Beech Hill College has become the first Second level school in County Monaghan to be recognised with the Healthy Ireland -‘Health Promoting Schools’ Flag’.
The Health Promoting Schools’ (HPS) Flag’ is presented by the HSE to schools as an acknowledgement of their work in improving the health of their school communities. The Health Promoting Schools programme has supported Beech Hill College in a bid to focus on health and wellbeing in many initiatives which involved all members of the school community.
Over a period of around two school years Beech Hill College students, staff, parents and guardians were consulted to identify priority health areas. An action plan was developed to address the health of our students and staff in key areas identified: Environment (social and physical) Curriculum, Policies and Partnerships. In Beech Hill College, the Health Promoting Schools coordinator Ms. Michelle Marray and the Health Promoting Schools team championed the progression of health and wellbeing and this work continues to be supported by the school principal Mr. Patrick McArdle, Board of Management and wider school community.
European research has shown many benefits of this type of whole school approach to health. Most notably increased self-esteem, safer and cleaner school environments, lowered incidences of bullying, a positive approach to health issues, increased parental involvement and better student/teacher relationships to name but a few.
In Beech Hill College some of the many health initiatives recently developed include:
- School Canteen overhaul: Both menus and dining facilities have been remodelled. Healthy, nutritious, affordable menus are now enjoyed in attractive, student friendly surroundings.
- A new state of the art fitness suite in the school gym, encouraging participation in physical activity.
- A complete upgrade of student lockers has negated the burden of heavy school bags for our students.
- Many programmes have been put in place to safeguard and support the mental wellbeing of our students e.g. Buddy system where older students mentor new incoming First years, Resilience Programme in Fifth year and Study skills workshops are offered regularly to all students.
Due to the inclement weather the Health promoting Schools’ Flag presentation ceremony was held indoors in Beech Hill College last Wednesday September 19th. Great excitement surrounded the event. The Health Promoting Schools’ co-ordinator conveyed the delight of the entire school when she commented “We have worked extremely hard to introduce and grow this campaign and are now justifiably proud of such a marvellous achievement. It is an exciting time of change for this school and we have many more ideas in the pipeline! Congratulations to all involved”.