Not A Typical Teenager: March 2016

Sunday, 27 March 2016

DofE Expedition Hacks

The Duke of Edinburgh award is something run in the UK (I don't know about abroad), which allows young people aged between 14-25 to achieve a qualification for volunteering, skills, physical and an expedition activity. (you have to do all four to achieve the award, for more information on the award, click here).

Last week, I undertook my silver practice expedition, (which is why there was no blog post). This week, I want to give you my tips and hints for carrying out your expedition.

1) Look your route up on google maps before you go
On each day of your expedition, you will have to walk roughly 15km along country paths. If map reading isn't your forte, take a picture of the map your using while planning your route and look it up on google maps when you go home. This can be especially helpful if the maps you are using are old. You'll know exactly where your going on the day.

2) Pasta
If you like pasta, take lots of pasta and sauce. It's great for energy and reasonably compact and light.

3) Tupperware instead of bowls
I find portable stove a nightmare to clean. Take Tupperware and don't mix sauce into your pasta until it's in the Tupperware. This way, you won't have to scrub you stoves as much to get them clean.

4) Check the weather
This isn't just for making sure you have packed the right clothes. It's also to make sure you pack the right sleeping bag. I froze last weekend because my sleeping bag was so thin. Don't make the same mistake.

5) Drink a hot drink before you leave in the morning
It'll warm you up and, let's be fair, hot chocolate is great

6) Take treats
Food is probably my biggest motivator. I find it so much easier to walk knowing that when we stop, I can crack open an angle cake or brownie. Not only does it give you an energy boost; it makes you feel a lot more positive about the day ahead.

7) Think about equipment
You will have to share a tent with at least one other person. You will also have to share a portable stove. Is it really necessary for you both to bring things to wash your portable stove with. No, not really. Pack smart.

8) They make the practice worse than the qualifier
This sounds really stupid but there is a reason behind it. They do this so when you learn from you're mistakes within the practice and learn how to pack more efficiently, the walking for the silver is easier. They know that if you could do the practice, you will be able to do the qualifier.

These are my top tips for the expedition. What do you think? Have you done your dofe. Anything to add. Let me know in the comments.

Also, I'm looking to do a Q&A post, so please leave your questions for me in the comments, tweet me some questions @_Not_typical_ or email me your questions using the link at the bottom of this post.

Stay Un-Typical

Ashleigh xxx

Sunday, 13 March 2016

7 Reasons Mental Health Should Be Taught In Schools
Last week, I did a post on things I think we should be taught  more about in school (and if you haven't read this post and you want to, you can view it here). Since then, I've had a few comments about it, and so this post  is going to kind of follow on from the previous post. This post is going to be more about point 3.  This is going to be about why mental health should be taught in schools.

On Saturday the 5th of March, I went to the Young Wales Annual Conference. While I was there, I went to the marketplace, which is where there were all of these stalls run by different organisations to promote what they do. I picked up a report called Making Sense, which is a report by young people on their mental health and well being. I will be referencing this a lot throughout this post.

So, here's why mental health should be taught in schools.

1) Young people want to talk to their teachers
When the making sense report was done, the writers carried out focus groups among some young people who use the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS). 44% of theyoung people who use CAMHS who were interviewed said they would prefer to turn to educational counselling services, and 39% said they would prefer to turn to teachers. (54 users or former users of CAHMS were interviewed).

2) Young people want to be educated on mental health
Out of the 76 people who took part in a different focus group, (this focus group was a group of young people who had no personal experience with CAHMS), 25% of them said that education and awareness of mental health in schools needs to improve. 8 groups of pupils were also spoken to, and five out of the eight of them said educating people through schools is most important to improve services.

3) We spend a lot of time in school
The making sense report states "if relaxation techniques, body confidence, methods to deal with exam and coursework pressure and other healthy coping mechanisms wereembedded into the curriculm we could create a generation of children and young people aware of their emotional needs, without thinking or being told that they have a mental illness." It would be so helpful.

One arguement against teaching mental health in schools is that teachers already have enough on their plate without adding new things to the curriculm. What they seem to be missing is that mental health doesn't just affect young people, but that they to have a mental health. Teaching  the teachers about mental health would prehaps help them to feel less pressure, or maybe give them better ways to deal with things.

4) There is still a stigma
There is still stigma around having mental health issues. I think part of the issues is that people think if they don't have an issue, mental health doesn't affect them. The fact of the matter is, everyone has a mental health, and we all need to learn how to care for our own mental health.

5) You teach us PE
Why do schools teach us PE? Because it's important that we know how to keep ourselves fit and healthy. It's important we learn how to stay in shape. It's important we know what food are good for us and what foods aren't. So why can't you teach us about mental health? Our brain is an organ to. I want to know what is good to keep my brain healthy. What I can do if I don't feel so good emotionally. You cannot keep valuing my physical health more than my mental health

6) Parents are just as clueless
An arguement that has been made is that how to have a good mental health is something that should be taught to us by our parents. But how can they teach us something they have no understanding of. Teachers can be taught and told how to teach us.

7) You give us exams
I applaud the education system in the UK really, because you have managed to take the amazing concept of learning new things, and destroyed it with the idea of pitting us against one and other and making us nothing more than a statistic. What's more; you don't teach us the importance of mental health and how to cope with stress, when the thought of my GCSE exams, which were COMPULSORY might I add, were enough to make me crawl up into fetal position and cry for at least an hour. You gave me all of these exams and no tools to deal with the amount of pressure being put on me by all of my teachers, and the letter that I was going to be catergorised into. You insisted on telling me that if I failed my exams, I wouldn't get anywhere, and at the end of year 11, you defined me with 13 letters, Well done!

Thank you very much for reading. What do you think? Am I over reacting or should mental health be taught in schools? Let me know in the comments.

Stay Un-Typical

Ashleigh xxx

Sunday, 6 March 2016

7 Things We Should Be Taught (More) About in School

I am currently in Year 12 (I'm 16), and so I like to think I have a pretty good knowledge of what it is I have been taught in school and what I haven't. There are some things which I think we should be taught sooner or a lot more of. This list, I think, pretty much sums it up.

1) Taxes
I do not have a clue what taxes are, what they do, why I need to pay them, how I pay them. I don't even know what happens if you don't pay your taxes, so surely they can'tbe that important (!!!).

2) How to write a CV
In my school, I was given a grid to fill in and that was my CV. It looked awful and I re did my entire CV using the internet and templates. My CV is now a tidy and ordered 1 page document, rather than the unorganised and incredibly unattractive looking 3 pages of grid that it once was.

3) Mental Health
We learn nothing about mental health in school. We had one assembly in year 11 where they split the male and female population of our year group up. We need to know that we all have mental health and that if we feel bad, it's okay. We need to learn ways of dealing with things. We need to know how to spot the warning signs for if something is wrong. We need to feel like it's okay to ask for help, to ask for advice. Talking helps get rid of stigma

4) How to deal with stress
This kind of ties in to mental health. Exams are so stressful and teachers put so much pressure on how important it is that you pass and that if you don't pass then you won't get anywhere, and yet we aren't told how to cope with our stress.
Just to put into context how badly the teachers handle the situation, when I was in year 11 and sitting my final year of my GCSE's, my school brought in a counsellor of some sort who said "There is no such thing as stress; only bad time management and organisation!"

5) To be better at our subjects
My friend was talking to a teacher in our school who said that teachers don't teach to be better chemists or biologists; artists or musicians. School teaches us how to pass exams in chemistry and biology, art and music. This isnn't the way is shoul be. We should be able to just learn about our subjects. The issue with exams is that the wonderful concept of learning is simply ruined by applying all of this expectation and ability to recite rather than understand.

6) Healthy Relationships
My school gave us a few (a few is probably about 6), lessons over the course of the 5 years I was at that school, about healthy relationships. And they mostly just talked about abuse and STI's. I think these are important subjects that we should be learning about. But we need to learn about how to maintain healthy relationships, not what to do when we haven't. We need to learn about maintaining more than just romantic relationships, but friendships and the relationships we have with family members.

7) General skills that will actually help us in life
Not all families cook, so I might need more than 8 lessons of cooking. What do all the dials on the washing machine do? Would I be better off buying a dish washer or hand washing my dishes? These are all questions that I don't really have the answers to because school hasn't taught me them.

What do you think? Are schools doing all they can to prepare us for the real world Should schools be teaching more relevant skills? Am I missing things off my list? Let me know in the comments, or shoot me and email via the link at the bottom.

Stay Un-Typical

Ashleigh xxx