What Gets You Out Of Bed Every Morning?

Lights On® learner, Noah (14), says, “I ran every day through lockdown and have no intention of stopping. I needed some form of exercise but, as I kept it up, it started to benefit my mental health. I felt less anxious and more relaxed. I now know running is the best way to help me manage my mental health and stay happy.”

Today is World Mental Health Day.

Young Minds, whose mission is “to ensure all young people get the best mental health support and have the resilience to overcome life’s challenges” report that although 1 in 8 children have a diagnosable mental health disorder, that’s roughly three in every classroom, less than 1 in 3 get access to NHS care and treatment.*

The challenges of this year have brought mental health awareness to the forefront of our collective consciousness. During periods of lockdown, confined to our homes and neighbourhoods, many of us have had to find new ways of prioritising and protecting our mental wellbeing.

Lights On® Mum, Karen, noticed her daughter Evie (10) struggling over lockdown, not wanting to do anything, very down on herself and obsessing with living through TV stories and characters, not able to find her own purpose. After voicing her concerns, Karen noticed Evie pivot, putting herself firmly back in the driving seat. Evie is now eager to share her experience and has set up a Just Giving page to raise awareness of the importance of looking after our mental wellbeing.

There she writes, “I went through a phase of feeling depressed and miserable all the time. My self-talk was really negative. I never wanted to do anything or go anywhere, and I was eating unhealthily too. Most days I would lie in bed watching Netflix all day. There were so many things I wanted to change about myself. When I finally realised what I'd become, I was horrified and seriously needed a change, so I made some pledges to myself. One TV episode a day (two on holidays and weekends). Only healthy food, like fruit and veg, on weekdays. To remember what I love about myself. (I love baking, writing and planning and can see myself as an interior designer one day.)  Lastly, to walk/run our block (just over a mile) every day in October. And that brings us to you reading my webpage and me keeping my promise.

Children's mental health is a big issue that is not being given anywhere near the amount of attention it deserves.”

To visit Evie’s Just Giving page and support her campaign for Young Minds, please follow the link at the foot of this post.**

Evie’s passion for being a young changemaker, raising her voice for a cause she feels strongly about has given her a reason to get out of bed every day.

At age 13, another young Lights On® changemaker, Esme, was bored, unhappy and anxious about being in school. She did not believe it was a healthy place for anyone's mental wellbeing. She faced the choice between coming out or staying in but making changes. She chose to stay in and negotiated to drop 5 subjects to pursue her passion for writing.

Esme wanted to go deeper into her growing interest in mental wellbeing and presented to the Head the idea of doing a EPQ (Extended Project Qualification). Though this is not normally offered until sixth form, Esme didn't want to wait. Presenting the case for pursuing her passion, Esme’s determination has benefitted others, too. The school have created an icollege for students who have shown they can work independently to be more self-directed with English and Maths. They have also offered the EPQ to students who want more of a challenge or who have a passion they want to explore in a deeper way.

Lights On® isn't about activities, it is a way of being. As children experience really owning their learning, a cultural shift occurs, resulting in exponential growth as they make choices that are right for them. For our children to be empowered to step into who they can be, we as parents first have to be empowered to think differently about what is important. Lights On® is simple. Our children's mental wellbeing comes first. Because when their lights are off they cannot truly learn.

Do you know what it is that gets your children out of bed every morning to explore and create? Make that your one big focus and your children will begin to understand what learning is at a whole new level.

* https://youngminds.org.uk/about-us/media-centre/mental-health-stats/

**To visit Evie’s Just Giving page, click here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/evie-amber-powell?fbclid=IwAR0DZdBQcHkGuNPG04ceg4ZZylYB-R59EJTdn3KmzhvlyApmRPfPImjfuyw

To watch Julia Black's live interview with Evie click here:  Young Changemakers Are Our Future

Alice Khimasia
Seeing her eldest son's lights go out when he was 7, Alice took action to ensure his freedom to learn. She has been speaking and writing about her family's learning adventures ever since and gave a TEDx talk in 2016. Alice is part of our Lights On® Academy and lives with her husband and 4 Lights On® Learners in the West Midlands.

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