The ramifications of COVID-19 for our students are far and wide. Unfortunately, they have had many things taken from them – in-class education, significant celebrations and milestones, physical social interaction, sport, and the list goes on. The Whitefriars Sports Department have done an amazing job putting together an online program for our Year 9 and 10 ACC Sport students comprising a series of presentations delivered live by sporting experts – three-time premiership player with Hawthorn and current coach of the Williamstown Football Club (VFL), Andrew Collins, current Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Richmond Football Club, Rob Innes and current two-time Richmond Premiership player, Kane Lambert.
I had the privilege, along with 56 Year 10 students and three staff, to be a part of Kane’s interactive presentation focussing on the mental side of the game. Kane took the students through a meditation to prove the point that it is critical to focus on ‘the here and now’ and try to block out those external ‘noises’ which distract us from the moment we are in and the job we need to do. He also introduced the concept of an A Game and B Game which is employed by the Richmond Football Club. Our A Game are our strengths and our B Game are our weaknesses or other factors out of our control which distract us from what we are required to do. While this approach comes from a sporting context, it also has a great message for these young men trying to navigate a challenging world. In summary, Kane’s message was that we need to focus on our A Game, our strengths and the things we can control and block or not dwell on out our B Game, that which we cannot control.
What a fantastic message for these young men aspiring to the best they can be on the sporting field, but also in life faced with a situation which has many forces out of their control, such as the things they have had taken away from them.
I also had the privilege of attending a webinar with Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, Psychologist specialising in adolescence, parenting, families and mental health. He spoke about the challenges facing adolescents during this COVID-19 isolation period and concrete strategies to help young people cope during this difficult time. Some of his key messages were:
- Routine, schedules and a discrete learning space are all critical
- Do things which make you physically and emotionally well
- Create situations which diffuse anxiety such as yoga, mindfulness and meditation – 10 minutes each day
- Manage the internal narrative which can dominate our thoughts and is often destructive – notice and name these thoughts and accept we are not these thoughts but observers of these thoughts
- Focus on what you can control – you can’t control the isolation but you can control what you do in it
- Contact and connect with people you haven’t spoken to for a long time
- Be active – exercise releases endorphins, serotonin and dopamine; chemicals responsible for happiness
- Read of watch uplifting books/films, for example, ‘The Last Dance’
- Download a gratitude App and create a daily record of what you are grateful for
If we can adopt some of these strategies, not only will we get through these challenging times, but we will develop positive habits which will remain with us throughout our lives.
Mr Mick Lafferty
Deputy Principal – Students