For most of us Christmas is a time of joy. A time to be with your family and loved ones and to rejoice. But sadly, that is not the case for everyone. For others it can be a time of loneliness, a time of isolation.
And it is that which has occupied the minds of students taking part in the Chelsea Foundation’s Chelsea Champions programme for the last month.
This week the year 10 and 11 students from the five schools involved (Thomas Bennett Community College, Pimlico Academy, Chelsea Academy, Clacton Coastal Academy and Fulham College Academy Trust) visited Stamford Bridge to present ideas on how to tackle these issues.
The primary focus for the students was around social media and the impact it can have on the lives of people aged 16 to 24, who a recent study determined are the loneliest generation after building their lives around social media.
As well as the presentations the young people also took part in a series of workshops, which included a discussion on ‘What is Social Isolation?’ with Dr Alex George, of Love Island fame, who has supported the programme this year and a place to ‘Make a Promise to your Future Self’.
As an added bonus on the day the students were joined by Olivier Giroud and Rob Green, with both players impressed by what was being discussed.
Giroud said: ‘It was a great experience being here. You have to live with social media in this modern day with it, phones, internet everywhere and it is important to discuss how this can have both negative and positive impacts.
‘It was interesting and important to discuss with teenagers how they can improve how they use it and the impact it has on your life day to day.’
Green added: ‘I feel like being here has benefitted me as much as the students! Being from a generation who didn’t have social media growing up it is an eye-opener, especially as a father, to see how it can impact you and it is really good to see the Chelsea Foundation and students discussing it.
‘Everybody here will have benefitted and discussing mental health in this way is very important.’
Academy scholars Jack Wakely, Marcel Lavinier, Clinton Mola, Nicolas Tie and Karlo Ziger were also in attendance, running their own workshop on the importance of limiting screen time and the positive impact physical activity can have on mental health.
Wakely said: ‘The event has been really good. I was aware of the programme as we as an Academy have been heavily involved so it was good to play my part.
‘I didn’t realise how much young people use their phones and what that can lead to, especially for the younger generation, so hopefully they will learn a lot from sessions like this.’
Launched earlier this year, the Chelsea Champions Programme places full-time Foundation staff within secondary schools to enhance and develop emotional wellbeing, resilience and coping mechanisms of students through a number of universal, targeted and individual measures.
The initiative also sees members of our Academy paying regular visits to the schools to engage with the young people about a variety of issues, including the effects social media can have on social isolation and mental health.
Joanne Tighe, lead of the Chelsea Champions programme added: ‘This has been a day we have all worked hard to make happen so I am delighted it has gone so well.
‘The players seem to enjoy it and the students certainly have. The whole programme is about education and having the players here really helps inspire the students to believe in what they are doing.
‘Mental health is just one of the elements of this programme and we are extremely happy with the response from all the students so far.’