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Rising to the Challenge

As we have all been adapting to life in lockdown, St John’s pupils have enthusiastically stepped up to take on the St John’s Challenge Award.  The Award has been designed to give pupils the chance to show what they have been doing and to recognise their efforts, while also encouraging them to step outside their comfort zone and try something new. 

Taking part in the Challenge Award involves committing time and effort to four key areas: Being Active, Learning Something New, Helping Others and Looking After Yourself.  These four strands to the Challenge help pupils look after their health and wellbeing during lockdown, while also creating the opportunity to spread kindness and give back to the local community.

To achieve a Bronze, Silver or Gold Challenge Award, pupils spend a total of 25, 50 or 75 hours respectively across the four aspects of the Challenge.  What they do to complete these hours is up to them and, as always, our pupils have impressed with their creativity and ingenuity. 

In the Being Active category, pupils have been enthusiastically cycling, walking, running, trampolining, working out to online fitness classes and practising yoga. There have been some amazing examples of real commitment with daily 5km or 10km runs also raining money for charity. Learning Something New is an intentionally broad category where there are no end of things to try. All sorts of craft activities, knitting, sewing, baking and cookery projects have been undertaken. Pupils have been starting to learn new languages, trying their hand at coding, and we have even seen one Upper Third girl learn how to block pave a driveway with her Dad – definitely not something we teach in school!  

We talk about kindness a lot at St John’s and encourage all our pupils to find ways to help and contribute to their community.  In the Helping Others category, pupils have been helping elderly neighbours, writing letters to residents in local care homes and baking for key workers.  But at this strange time, as well as helping others, taking care of our own wellbeing is more important than ever. It can be hard to identify when we need time for ourselves and, through the Looking After Yourself strand of the Challenge, we have asked pupils to think about what helps them relax and feel good. With so much of our pupils’ lives – both within our ‘virtual school’ and their social interaction – taking place online, we have encouraged them to find screen-free activities for relaxation. For some that has been going for a walk in nature, going for a run or meditating, for others it is simply having a relaxing bath or curling up with a good book. The important thing has been identifying what works and making time for it. 

Launched in the second half of Summer Term, pupils from Lower Third to Lower Sixth have already received Awards and they can keep logging their hours until the end of term, so we are looking forward to many more submissions over the rest of this month.  The St John’s Challenge Award has proved to be an interesting way of encouraging and supporting the ways in which pupils have positively adapted to the challenges and opportunities that this strange time has presented.