Challenge 31

The new College Prefect team have hit the ground running in recent weeks and, amongst their priorities for the year ahead, is their intention to use the College’s co-curriculum, as well as fun events, initiatives and socials, to bring Wellingtonians back together again as restrictions and regulations ease. It is a wonderful endeavour which we fully support and, to this end, as we enter Mental Health Awareness Week, the Prefects used today’s assembly to introduce Challenge 31.

The idea of Challenge 31 is simple: for individuals, tutor groups and, indeed, Houses to use the 31 days of May to complete some form of pupil-led challenge associated with the number 31 either individually or as a group. This could be raising £31 each for charity, or paying 31 compliments to others, or minimising phone screen time to 31 minutes a day. For my part, I have set myself two challenges in homage to last year’s Prefects, who included Gratitude as an honorary sixth College Value: the first is to write 31 ‘thank you’ cards to members of the Wellington Community who might not ordinarily receive thanks for the work they do; the second is to identify and acknowledge 31 different things for which I am grateful every day throughout May.

I have written before via this medium about the well-researched association, particularly in the field of positive psychology, between gratitude and wellbeing, and although it has not always been easy over the past 14 months to find opportunities to be grateful, I am convinced that the importance of this habit remains integral to our own experiences of true happiness. As a recent article from the Harvard Medical School explains, expressing gratitude is a vital way through which we can connect with people and the world around us both physically and spiritually:

Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves. As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.

As we enter Week 4 of this Summer Term, there are so many blessings for the Wellington Community to count, although many of these come with a large amount of wood touched and without an iota of complacency: the return of competitive sport and live Arts events at the College, as well as the imminent prospect of being able to re-connect with parents back on site to watch; the ongoing success of the remarkable vaccination effort which is allowing and will continue to allow so many areas of public life to return to normality in the weeks ahead; the fact that we have managed to go three weeks at College without a case of C-19 amongst either the pupils or the staff; and the remarkable spirit and endeavour of the Wellington Community which never ceases to amaze or put a smile on my face.

Nowhere has this spirit and endeavour been more clearly seen than in the College Prefects and their determination to lead the Wellington Community back to some semblance of normality in the weeks, months and terms ahead. To this end, I whole-heartedly extend their invitation to participate in Challenge 31 to all parents and, as the third stage in the Government’s easing of lockdown remains set to kick in in just seven days’ time – another thing for which I am deeply grateful – I hope to see as many of you as possible at a performance, match or concert. We genuinely can’t wait!

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