School starts daily lockdown yoga and zumba classes to help students’ mental health

Copleston High School, in Ipswich, has introduced online yoga sessions in a bid to support students' mental health. Picture: COPLESTON HIGH SCHOOL

Copleston High School, in Ipswich, has introduced online yoga sessions in a bid to support students' mental health. Picture: COPLESTON HIGH SCHOOL


A school in Ipswich is giving students daily online yoga and zumba classes during the coronavirus lockdown - to keep youngsters “fit in mind and body during this most testing of times”.

Copleston High School.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNCopleston High School. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The UK-wide shutdown, with people only allowed to leave their homes for limited reasons, has become necessary to prevent the spread of the illness which has claimed more than 1,500 lives in the UK so far.

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Yet despite the need for people to stay indoors, there are fears some people’s mental health - particularly young people - could be adversely affected by the crisis.

As such, Copleston High School in Ipswich has provided a “comprehensive” series of services to support students mentally and physically during the three-week period and beyond, should the lockdown be extended.

Kelley Osman, wellbeing coordinator at Copleston High School in Ipswich. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTHKelley Osman, wellbeing coordinator at Copleston High School in Ipswich. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH

In addition to a range of YouTube video workouts from the world-renowned Ipswich Basketball Academy, Copleston’s PE department is showing daily fitness routines via Microsoft Sharepoint.

It has also teamed up with Suffolk yoga instructor Julia Fairbrother to offer free online sessions to students via apps such as Zoom.

In addition, wellbeing coordinator Kelley Osman has sent letters and emails to young people with tips on how to look after their mental health during the lockdown.

These include advice on establishing routine, managing anxiety, practising mindfulness and staying connected while isolated.

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Copleston High School principal Andy Green said: “The school closure and lockdown due to the coronavirus means we have to think of new and creative ways to support our students’ physical and mental wellbeing.

“Yes, it is incredibly important that we provide them with the learning material and resources to ensure minimal disruption to their education.

“But we have also been working hard to make sure they are able to stay fit in mind and body during this most testing of times.

“I am incredibly proud of the hard work that has gone into providing these comprehensive services from our team of dedicated teachers and support staff.

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“It is this kind of selfless dedication to others which gives me confidence that we will emerge from the crisis with our faith in humanity restored.”

MORE: All of the coronavirus news in Suffolk

In the coming weeks, Copleston plans to look at setting some specific challenges in a variety of different sports so students - as well as parents and carers - can focus on a sport that appeals to them and can be done in isolation.

The PE department believes the release of much-needed endorphins will lighten people’s moods and enable them to get through a difficult time.

MORE: School donates from its canteen to Ipswich Hospital nurses fighting coronavirus

Head of PE John Yorke said: “Copleston PE have begun to trawl online physical challenges and activities that can take from between 10 to 30mins in students’ homes and gardens.

“We have tried to find sessions that can be personalised for each student including circuits, yoga and zumba.

“We have asked students to keep us updated, if they can, with videos of them working out and year-seven and year-eight are going to be given tasks to perform some initial fitness tests and come up with a programme to show progress in one of two areas of fitness.”

Ms Osman added: “School is very much a safe space for many of our students. They have their support network here with friends, it is where they are supported by teachers.

“Access to mental health services in the community may be limited so it is absolutely crucial that they have the support should they need it.”

An email sent to parents and students from the school said: “It may be difficult, but by following guidance on social distancing, or staying at home, you are helping to protect yourself, your family, the NHS and your community.

“During this time, you may be bored, frustrated or lonely. You may also feel low, worried, anxious or be concerned about your health or that of those close to you.

“Everyone reacts differently to events and changes in the way that we think, feel and behave vary between different people and over time.

“It’s important that you take care of your mind as well as your body and to get further support if you need it.”

■ Need to talk? Call The Samaritans on 116 123.

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