02 February, 2022

Exhibition of school mental health projects launched

Walk in My Shoes (WIMS) is launching an art exhibition of mental health projects by school students taking part in our Ways to Wellbeing campaign.

The exhibition is on display in the Arts Space of St Patrick’s University Hospital (SPUH) from Wednesday, 2 February for six weeks. It celebrates how the Ways to Wellbeing campaign connected 279 primary and secondary school students in Dublin 8 with older people in the area so that they could learn about mental health from one another.

Learn more about Ways to Wellbeing

Students were asked to explore tips for a mentally healthy life, how to build resilience and important life lessons from the older people they were linked with. They then created engaging projects through different mediums – from podcasts and films to written stories and photos – to share these learnings. 

Along with artwork from the projects, a video has been specially produced to more of the activity that got underway through the campaign. As well as being part of the exhibition, the video will be shared with local businesses in the Dublin 8 community.

Ways to Wellbeing is a collaboration between WIMS and Smart D8, an initiative which aims to improve the health and wellbeing of citizens in Dublin 8 through partnership and innovation. Its objective is to promote wellbeing by fostering local connections and kick-starting rewarding conversations between young and elderly people.

It launched its pilot phase on the International Day of Older Persons in October 2021, with students ranging from Junior Infants to Transition Year classes taking parts. They were based in one secondary school and three primary schools in Dublin 8:

  • Scoil Treasa Naofa
  • St Enda’s Primary School
  • Scoil Mhuire Gan Smal
  • Presentation Secondary School, Warrenmount.

Students were encouraged to actively engage with older people in their area, such as by interviewing family members, writing letters to people in local nursing homes or day centres, and so on. For example, students from the Wellbeing Committee in Scoil Treasa Naofa connected with residents in the Bellvilla nursing home to build new relationships, bridge age gaps between younger and older generations, and have open discussions about wellbeing and resilience.

30 projects were uploaded to our School Portal, showcasing the range of activities students got involved with and exploring what they learned from older people they linked up with. Projects included posters, films, podcasts and presentations.

Watch our Ways to Wellbeing video

Watch our Ways to Wellbeing video

Amanda McArdle, WIMS Campaign Manager, said “We are thrilled to be hosting this new exhibition. We believe the connections made during Ways to Wellbeing is the success story of this pilot phase of the campaign. Numerous conversations were had between young and old because of this initiative.  Grandparents and elderly people having open conversations around the subject of wellbeing with younger generations is also a highlight, especially in a time when connections were lost through the restrictions imposed, which resulted in feelings of isolation”.

Lorraine Spillane from Scoil Treasa Naofa added "Human connection is now more important than ever and this project presented such a fantastic opportunity for young and all in Dublin 8, and at a time when it was really needed. The Ways to Wellbeing project was a focal point of our Wellbeing Week and, throughout the week, our school garden became a daily haven for laughter, advice and wisdom."

She added:

"The best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person and this project certainly proved that! The children gained nuggets of  priceless wisdom and valuable knowledge from a host of fantastic elderly volunteers and it made this a very worthwhile and enriching learning experience for all involved". 

Due to visiting restrictions in SPUH, the exhibition is not open to the public, but photos, videos and more are available to view below and on our social media.

While the pilot phase of the campaign is currently at an end, WIMS is looking forward to making more announcements about the future of the campaign later in the year.

Teacher feedback on Ways to Wellbeing

Fiona Costello

"It was so lovely and heartwarming to watch the different generations interact. The children were so excited (and shocked!) to find out about how different life was growing up long ago! It gave the children a different outlook on older people and opened up opportunities for new friendships!"

Jennifer Dolan

"The gentle wisdom of our guest left a lasting impression on myself and the children. Her valuable life lessons are still regularly referenced in our classroom. The Walk in My Shoes project was an unmissable learning experience for all who took part."

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