“Life skills education is aimed at facilitating the development of psychosocial skills that are required to deal with the demands and challenges of everyday life.” These words were spoken at the United Nations Inter-Agency Meeting held at World Health Organisation headquarters in Geneva on 6 – 7 April 1998.
Imagine you are 17years of age, have been sought out and identified by an academy that seeks to transform Africa and develop ethical leaders who will be the driving force of such a transformation? Also, this academy happens to be in South Africa, a country you are possibly not all too familiar with. The academy offers a program that promises to challenge you and harness a quality in you that you may not have previously thought you had. It could certainly be overwhelming.
In the two years that you come to spend at this academy – you go through a rigorous academic programme, you interact with young people of similar age from countries you may have not known existed. The academy offers a course where they encourage innovation and entrepreneurship and provide the opportunity to run an on-campus business. All the while your values are tested, which leads you on an exciting, yet emotional journey of self-discovery.
The Wellness Program has been tailored to ALA students’ needs and aims to equip students with the life skills they need to effectively manage their emotional, mental and physical health. This is done by tackling topics that affect ALA students in their time on campus, but aims to prepare them for the trials they will face beyond ALA.
The first year that the student is at ALA is a critical year in determining a student’s success. We believe that given the right tools to manage their mental, emotional and physical health, students can commendably adjust and be better positioned to excel at ALA.
We understand that challenges arise and can be all or some of the folloing:
- ineffective time management
- difficulty managing a demanding schedule
- difficulty managing emotions and physical health
- difficulty demonstrating self-compassion as a way to maintaining a healthy self-esteem
- articulating and effectively expressing emotions
- evolving identity: finding a sense of belonging, nationality, becoming a potential leader, practising your values
We have therefore invented a curriculum that is continuously reviewed to ensure the best results are achieved. As a department focused on the well-being of students; we take careful consideration in listening to our students (by delivering group sessions weekly) and provide what will help them get through their time with us in a way that is not hindering their growth and potential.
Wellness is effective most when it is engaging, experiential and contributing to the students’ needs – whilst also equipping them with the necessary life skills to ensure an effective way of dealing with the demands of everyday life.
About the author: Mandisa Mtembu is a Student Counsellor and Wellness Program Co-ordinator at ALA. Read more here.