Schools to roll out Happiness Clubs to boost wellness
School teachers and guidance counsellors have commended the efforts made by Choose life International (CLI) and the Jamaica Social Stock Exchange (JSSE), who on Monday, launched the Happiness Clubs in Schools project.
The launch coincided with the observance of International Day of Happiness on March 20, with this year’s theme being ‘Be Mindful. Be Grateful. Be Kind.’ The General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed the day to recognise the relevance of happiness and well-being as a universal goal and aspiration in the lives of human beings around the world.
The national programme, titled the ‘Shalom Project: Happiness in Schools’, involves the training of teachers and guidance counsellors for a period of 36 hours in five transformational courses: the art and science of happiness, suicide prevention, conflict resolution, trauma intervention, and basic skills in counselling.
After this, participants will be equipped with the resources and support to establish Happiness Clubs within their institutions with the programme’s overall aim being to build positive mental and emotional health and well-being in schools and, eventually, the wider communities.
Janique Palmer Jamieson, guidance counsellor at Windward Road Primary and Junior High School, lauded the partners of the project for actualising their ideas and being proactive in tackling the issue “from the root” and not waiting until the students became adults.
Given that there is a high level of violence in Jamaican schools and deteriorating mental health of individuals, “the only way for us to be lifted up from that is through happiness”, she said.
Palmer Jamieson told The Gleaner that the clubs will help to teach children that happiness cannot be found in material things, but that it comes from within, and that “true happiness comes from God”.
“I’m looking forward to working in this programme and I know, without a doubt, that we will see a better Jamaica,” she said.
Camille Jennings, guidance counsellor at George Headley Primary School, said the three workshops provided for the school in February had been very helpful.
“I think it’s a phenomenal idea,” she said of the programme, noting that the workshops equipped her with the right set of knowledge-based tools, which she has since started to implement in her day-to-day interactions with the children.
“We are very excited here at George Headley to actually bring this back into the schools. We are excited to start the clubs and to bring this to our students ... to help them [to know] that happiness is a reachable goal,” she told The Gleaner.
Health and family life education teacher at George Headley Primary, Renae Griffiths, is also looking forward to touching the lives of students battling suicidal thoughts and traumatic events coming out of the COVID-19 lockdowns and isolation.
“We are just looking for a way to help mitigate it because what we are doing right now, it’s clearly – as you can see in the media – not enough, but what we are trying to do is to gather as much resources and tools to assist [and] charge us to help them,” she said.
Sharon McCarthy, project manager at CLI, said the project was birthed out of realising the need to address issues of concern to all Jamaicans.
“Our nation is confronted on a daily basis with all kinds of maladies. This is seen in the high numbers of murders, increasing reports of domestic violence, inability to resolve conflicts, incidents of verbal, physical and sexual abuse and unhealthy behaviours of our children and youth,” she said.
Dr Marlene Street Forrest, managing director of the Jamaica Stock Exchange, also agreed that the initiative was worthwhile.
“Happy children make happy adults and productive people on which the wheels of our economy turn,” she said.
Street Forrest added that the programme was not only for at-risk youth, but all children, as the state of happiness is a learnt behaviour, which would result in well-adjusted students.