There was a festival feel on campus yesterday as Hartpury students enjoyed a fun and fact-filled day dedicated to helping them keep their minds and bodies healthy and happy.
The College, with the support of the Gloucestershire Road Safety Partnership and Gloucestershire Healthy Living and Learning, hosted an action-packed ‘WellFest’ day that offered around 300 students the chance to take part in activities and educational workshops.
While the focus of last year’s ‘Drive for Life, Safe and Social Driving’ day was about staying safe on our roads and encouraging respect for all road users, the event was expanded this year to promote general wellbeing.
The students attended workshops on anti-bullying, PREVENT (training and awareness as part of the Government’s anti-radicalisation strategy), mental health first aid, cyber-bullying and prevention of drink and drugs driving. They also watched an anti-bullying theatre production by Robert Higgs.
Nick Gazzard from the Hollie Gazzard Trust opened the event and the Trust, alongside Gloucestershire Domestic Abuse Support Services, talked to young people about how they can deal with abuse and where they can go for help, as well as launching the new ‘Hollie Guard’ personal safety app.
Students were able to climb aboard the NHS Information Bus, learn how to resuscitate people safely, have their blood pressure taken, post their thoughts on a ‘positivity tree’ and kick back for a relaxation session run by the 2Gether NHS Foundation Trust.
Elise Watkins, 16, from Whitminster, who is studying for a BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Horse Management (Business), said: “I think it’s brilliant that this event has been put on for us and I’ve learned some really helpful lessons about how to stay safe and keep well.
“The relaxation session was amazing. We were shown how to put images in our head that take us to a completely different place. I’m sure the techniques I learned will really help me cope with stress in the future.”
On the road safety front, Hartpury students were able to witness a hard-hitting road traffic collision (RTC) scene and investigation and see first-hand the actions of the emergency services and the impact on them, as well as the people involved in the collision.
Students were also able to sit on a seatbelt sled, where they felt the impact of hitting a vehicle at seven miles per hour, together with trying their hand at driving go-karts and walking a line with distraction goggles, which simulates the effects of driving under the influence of drink and drugs
Josh Morland, 16, a student on the BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Agriculture, said: “It’s really surprising how much of an impact you feel only travelling at only seven miles per hour, and you realise what could happen if you weren’t wearing a seatbelt, especially if you were travelling any faster.
“I had a go at the go karting too. It was quite a shock for us all seeing how impaired your reactions are when you’re over the limit. I could barely see! All the things I’ve learned today would definitely make me more cautious and responsible when I’m driving.”
Hartpury Principal, Russell Marchant, said: “It was fantastic seeing so many of our students interacting so enthusiastically with all of the different organisations at Wellfest. We were determined to make the event even bigger and better this year and it was a great opportunity for our students to access all the information and advice they need in one place.
“What they have learned today will help them stay safe and well as they become adults and, just as importantly, they will know where they can turn to for help in the future.”
Gloucestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Martin Surl,said: “Encouraging young people to drive more safely and responsibly is something I care deeply about - that’s why I made it one of the priorities of my police and crime plan.
“Wellfest has enabled this message to be delivered really effectively and powerfully to the students at Hartpury, who are at an age where they are most at risk of being hurt in a road traffic collision. The lessons the Hartpury students have learned today could save their lives.”
Jan Courtney, the Lead for Health and Wellbeing (Education and Learning) at Gloucestershire County Council, said: “It was a privilege to present Hartpury with the Gloucestershire Healthy Living and Learning Award today, especially as it is the first Further Education college in Gloucestershire to earn this accolade.
“I know how committed Hartpury is to promoting the health and wellbeing of its students and Wellfest is simply an extension of the good work that is already going on here. The students have really engaged with the activities and the organisations and we’re looking forward to continuing to work closely with the college on future initiatives.”
Exhibitors at the event also included the Samaritans, Gloucester City Safe, the Bullying Intervention Group, Sun Safety, the British Horse Society, Young Gloucestershire, Gloucestershire Young Carers, Young Farmers, Hope Support Services, the Rethink (Gloucestershire Self-Harm), Independence Trust and Winston’s Wish.
The Road Safety Partnership also talked to students about staying safe on the road and Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service demonstrated extracting casualties from a crashed car.