Posted: 29 June, 2023

A Week in Your Shoes – Look Out Festival Wellbeing Week 2023

Arts, Blog, BREATHE, Celebration, Community, In the Press, News, Partnerships, Senior School, Sixth Form, Wellbeing

Our Student Wellbeing Lead, Laura Mae Brown, writes about the Look Out Festival - this year's Wellbeing Week

As the sun shines down on the Putney grounds, I think to myself that I hope it stays dry for the deckchairs. Thirty hired deckchairs will be arriving on site for Wellbeing Week next week; a fun and visual contribution to our ‘Look Out Festival’.

Amidst the blue and white stripes, bunting, live music, seaside photo cut out stands, picnics, yoga and herbal teas, lies an important thread: the importance of awareness, and more importantly, awareness of others.

In your shoes

One of the highlights of the week will be an ‘In Your Shoes’ installation, a student led, community wide project, running from 5 – 7 July. The installation highlights the importance of understanding someone else’s perspective and putting yourself ‘In their shoes’. Often, when we interact with others or support each other, we can too easily jump into their story or narrative by bringing it back to our own. Offering our solution seems like the most helpful thing we can do, whereas sometimes, simply staying with the person’s experience can be all that is needed. The power of listening and giving someone your full attention, without necessarily intervening with your own ideas, can be incredibly meaningful and supportive.

On 27 June, a joint Wellbeing and Art workshop celebrated personal objects of significance—a delve into safe places and inspired poetry that looked into the ‘sole’—soundscapes that were inspired by journeys, a listening and retelling of undiscovered stories, activities to highlight how we may be connected and ‘interlaced’ in unexpected ways, and a celebration of shape, movement and our bodies.

Mindfulness in nature

Alongside the installation, there will be Teen Yoga sessions on the lawn—an opportunity to check in with ourselves and our bodies. We will be introducing a mindfulness element that focuses on sending compassion and love towards someone else close to us; reflecting on and appreciating the important people in our lives.

The deckchairs, mentioned previously, will offer students a space to sit, rest and connect with each other. Tied to the deckchairs will be questions to encourage thoughtful discussion; a space to listen and learn new things about each other.

Being a school in southwest London, you would think that the backdrop of car horns and police sirens would overshadow our beautiful green grounds, but the birdsong still triumphs. It is only recently whilst observing our dedicated staff and student team of gardeners at work, that I came to think more about birdsong and how we interact with it. From this, the birdsong walkway idea was born. An opportunity for students to meander in between lessons and take a moment to appreciate how we can be more connected and aware of something so much bigger than us; nature.

A picnic in the woods will absorb students in the sensory experience of nature. Sounds, smells and our appreciation of sitting amongst trees, will all be there to encourage students to look outwards and notice their environment. How different our experience can be when accompanied by nature!

Balance and connection

Giving back is an idea that is central to this week. An interactive sticky board will be available where students can leave affirmations and tokens of support and encouragement, and in return, take something they may need for themselves. A representation of the ‘to and fro’ of relationships and the importance of balance.

So, whilst the students congregate on the lawn, and bond in a setting that – hopefully – takes them to the seaside for a moment or two, I hope the message resonates. These joyful moments are illuminated when they are shared, and when we consider the experience of others.

So, look out and connect with everything and everyone around you. There is so much to see and experience, just take a moment and you’ll find it.


Laura Mae Brown

Deckchair photo with thanks to Nick Page (Unsplash). Bird photo with thanks to Andy Holmes (Unsplash).

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