At The International School of Kuala Lumpur (ISKL), nurturing well-being is a fundamental component of a school-wide program to support the social and emotional health of each and every member of our community. Be it our students, parents, faculty, or staff, our aim is to ensure that each community member has access to the support that they need.
In January 2021, ISKL was announced as the winner of the International School Awards 2021, in the ‘Well-being Initiative’ category, ISKL was also shortlisted for an award in the ‘Strategic Leadership Initiative’ category. ISKL’s Head of School, Rami Madani, said “We know this is a challenging time for school communities around the world. This is why we believe in our Department of PAWsitivity – to share the learning, share the smiles, and share the PAWsitive stories – and our ISKL community has been able to do just that. Through this initiative, we were able to bring people closer together, create avenues for creativity, and encourage a deeper understanding amongst our multicultural community.”
The aim of this Well-being Initiative was to find a way for our community to stay connected, united, and supported, while everyone remained at home during the government-mandated campus closure. Through this, our community was able to come together and see all the amazing initiatives that were taking place across all school divisions, as well as with parents, alumni, faculty, and staff.
Using the school mascot, Panther, as the Head of the newly established Department of PAWsitivity, its role was to be the furry friend and chief cheerleader celebrating ISKL’s spirit, the fun times, and all the great things that take place across the entire community.
The ISKL team created a virtual newsroom, sharing 100% community-generated content that includes positive learning stories, creative performances, imaginative challenges, virtual (with school friends), and in-person (with family) moments experienced by our community, as well as outreach initiatives by and for our community.
This online initiative on social media provided a platform for our students, faculty, staff, and alumni to share their heartwarming ‘PAWsitive’ ideas and experiences, express their feelings, and reach out to their friends and colleagues in the only way they could – virtually. Using the hashtag #PAWsitivity, the inspiring submissions aimed to lift spirits and connect people in the face of a global epidemic and included stunning performances such as being part of the ‘Call To Unite’ movement.
The ISKL High School virtual choir took part in a 24-hour live stream global broadcast, celebrating a worldwide shared call to action to be inspired, and shared the stage with performers, visionaries, and leaders such as Oprah Winfrey, Julia Roberts, Naomi Campbell, Deepak Chopra, Steve Aoki, and Marie Kondo.
#PAWsitivity also brought the community together through artistic, musical, and physical challenges, such as the Friday Fun Photo challenges, TikTok Tootsie Slide challenges, Getty Art creations, Earth Week projects, and a refugee food drive donation. Last but not least, Virtual Virtuosos was launched to share the joy of music during the lockdown – a movement so #PAWsitive that it has branched out into all divisions of the ISKL community.
Even though interactions were limited to online channels, spirits were kept high through virtual connections during the monotonous months of quarantine. From video and photo challenges to social media movements, the ISKL Panthers were able to stay connected whenever and wherever – and all of this was highlighted and dedicated to a magazine called The Paw!
PAWsitivity is one element of our commitment to promoting and nurturing well-being at ISKL. As an example, ISKL’s Well-being Committee launched the first-ever ISKL Community Well-being Calendar in December 2020. This calendar featured a variety of free activities and selected workshops for parents, students, staff, and faculty members, with the aim of keeping our community connected and engaged throughout the school holidays. A weekly activity program was established and populated with two or three activity options per day, including fitness workouts, cooking classes, chess tournaments, eSports competitions, guitar lessons, and meditation sessions. As our nation entered another phase of the Movement Control Order in January 2021, the Committee leapt into action once again, to put together a renewed calendar of online activities, so that the ISKL community could remain connected, albeit virtually.
Aside from the activities offered, there were also several workshops held specifically for parents, faculty, and staff. These workshops covered topics such as self-care and holistic health, led by two of our very own ISKL parents, Tracy C. and Kavita S. It was fantastic to have parent volunteers who offered their time and knowledge to support our community.
IISKL’s Director of Student Services, Trina Cobbledick, said, “We launched the Community Well-being Calendar because we wanted to maintain the connections within our community despite being apart. These virtual activities were a fun way to get active, learn a new skill, or simply spend time with others. The well-being of our ISKL community is a high priority to us and we are continuously working hard to develop programs and plans that can offer this necessary support.”
Across each division, ISKL students are supported by a school-wide approach to well-being that includes a team of school counselors, educational psychologists, medical professionals, and learning support specialists. In addition to classroom lessons and grade-level advisory programs, our extensive counseling program also includes topical workshops for students and parents, one-to-one and small group counseling, transition support and university admission, careers, and beyond-school guidance.
Our commitment to nurturing well-being is not just to our students, but also extends to our parents, faculty, and staff. The school regularly hosts programs and workshops that focus on topics such as parenting in a digital age, supporting a transition, and wellness strategies at home.
Recently, our Elementary School counselors hosted a workshop for parents, focusing on how to provide feedback during the child’s continuous learning journey, in order to ensure a productive and fruitful learning experience for each child. In this workshop, our counselors Chris Wright, Emma Gedge, and Lynn Kogelmann, shared valuable tips, including how to evaluate feedback using the THINK method, (Is it True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, and Kind?), how to form constructive feedback, and how to set an example by also readily receiving feedback from the child.
This is just one of the many workshops that were rapidly developed to assist students, parents, faculty, and staff, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic’s disruptive effect on the education sector. There were many other workshops and guidance sessions that covered a variety of topics, including how to help your child during a transitionary period, supporting learners at home, tips on staying positive, and parenting in a digital age.
ISKL’s Head of School, Rami Madani, said, “The years of Early Childhood through High School are all critical periods for developing positive attitudes, skills, and knowledge around health and wellbeing. I deeply believe that embracing wellness is a key skill that needs to be explicitly taught, modeled, and practiced so that our students are able to make good choices for themselves, others, and the environment. Our counselors provide an invaluable support network in helping teach and nurture these skills. This approach applies across our community and our goal remains the same – to help and support each of our community members develop the skills they need to navigate the challenges life presents, and lead a healthy, balanced, and fulfilling life both now and in the future.”
Despite the many challenges that the past year has brought, the ISKL community has remained resilient in the face of adversity. As such, the well-being of our community is a key consideration across all aspects of our development. Nurturing the social and emotional health of our students, parents, teachers, and staff remains a priority – ISKL is dedicated to ensuring that the necessary support is provided in order for our community to flourish.
To find out more about how ISKL supports the well-being of our community, follow our #WellnessWednesday posts on our Facebook and Instagram pages!
Latest update: October 26