50 Wellbeing Lessons for the Diverse Primary Classroom (Author Interview)

50 Wellbeing Lessons looks like a great teaching guide  What can you tell us about it?
50 wellbeing lessons is about ensuring that all young people feel like a valued member of their school community and beyond.  It is about ensuring that all those who have a duty of care and commitment to the welfare and safety of children demonstrate responsibility in making sure mental health and wellbeing is at the heart of school ethos and culture.  
What inspired you when writing 50 Wellbeing Lessons?
My journey of becoming a young carer, along with my family, for my twin brother who suffered from a mental health breakdown due to bullying, along with my passion for football and education, became my inspiration in creating ’50 Wellbeing Lessons’.   
I believe that no child or young person deserves to be bullied or treated unfairly and be made to feel so isolated that they are fearful of speaking out. No young person should have to cope with becoming a young carer on their own or feel ashamed in talking about mental health. By creating open discussion on topics that matter to the children and educating them on topics that will help them to develop as learners for life.  It is time to change the face of mental health in schools and our wider society through inclusive practice.
What will readers get out of your book?
The 50 detailed lessons plans and supplemented resources help to promote discussion with each lesson plan containing learning outcomes, activity descriptions and further questions to stimulate critical thinking, especially around areas of diversity specific to race, culture and LGBTQ+. The content covered in this resource includes topics such as the psychological impact of discrimination, the Black Lives Matter movement, Islamophobia, disability, prejudice, coping with loss, feeling left out, moving school and managing as a young carer.
What motivated you to become a writer?
This book provided me with an opportunity to put my heart into a book that could help others.
How did you come up with the concepts and ideas in 50 Wellbeing Lessons?
There is a growing mental health crisis in schools and mental health problems affect children in every country across the globe. This pandemic has changed the lives of people, including the lives of children all over the world. A recent study by the Mental Health Foundation UK found that young people are feeling more anxious, a trend which is 10% higher for black and mixed heritage children. Research from the World Health Organisation suggests that 1 in 8 children have a diagnosable mental health disorder and globally, depression is one of the leading causes of illness and disability. This, along with my work in equality and diversity with Show Racism the Red Card and Sporting Equals assisted my thought process when generating ideas for the various lessons that are found in the book. As a female from South Asian heritage who became a young carer, I was able to empathise with themes relating to race, culture and religion, as well as managing change. My hope is that this can help others find ways of not only building resilience, but develop coping strategies to overcome adversities in life.

Did anything stick out as particularly challenging when writing 50 Wellbeing Lessons?
Yes - Mental Health is very closely linked to poverty, discrimination and overall health and wellbeing. I recognised that creating a book that supports teachers in promoting social and emotional wellbeing within a diverse classroom, inclusive for all learners, was not going to be a simple task; it would need collaboration with friends, family and experts within this space.
Children will experience lots of highs and lows and at times in rapid succession going through situations that make them feel excited, exhilarated and happy, to sad, disappointed and frustrated, caused by change in environment, missing friends, bereavement or change in circumstance e.g. parents loss of job and income as a result of the pandemic. I wanted to ensure that I was considered when creating the lesson plans and also empathetic and understanding of different situations and contexts.
Can you tell us a little about your background?
I have a background in primary education and trained as a headteacher.  I currently work at a professional football club, as Assistant Head of Coaching. In addition to this I deliver education and football around mental health for both adults and children, focused projects on women and girls as well as anti-racism workshops, through my company Swaggarlicious. 
In 2017 I received an MBE for services to football and diversity in sport. 
I have attained a UEFA B and Advanced Youth Award and currently on the UEFA A Licence.
Where can readers find out more about your work?
Twitter: @swaggarlicious_
Instagram: @swaggarlicious_