A Year 11 student at The Totteridge Academy is celebrating after winning a national award for her work to promote wellbeing in her school.
Naomi Balan won the ‘Young Champion’ award at this year’s ‘Wellbeing in Schools Awards’, run by the children’s mental health charity Place2Be. Through the ceremony, Place2Be seeks to recognise the determination and hard work of students and schools across the country in delivering mental health and wellbeing support to young people. By winning this award, Naomi has demonstrated a particularly outstanding level of innovation and impact in championing mental health.
Since arriving at the academy from Romania in 2011, Naomi has worked diligently to support students who don’t speak English as their first language. She has completed a Young Interpreter Course and often sits beside new students in lessons as an extra point of contact. Naomi also works closely with students in the younger years, specifically helping Year 7s to settle in during their first few weeks at school.
The school has been working with Place2Be since 2018, receiving in-depth training programmes to ensure the emotional wellbeing of students, families, teachers and school staff. Teaching their young people to show respect for one another and make a positive contribution to both the school and wider community is all part of what The Totteridge Academy calls an Education with Character.
Speaking of her win, Naomi said:
“I feel so honoured to be part of such a prestigious event and to win this award. I feel really passionate about mental health and ensuring that all people have access to the support they need. This is something I promote within school and beyond, but it really is unexpected to have been recognised for this and I am very grateful.”
Janina Aitken, Vice Principal at The Totteridge Academy, said:
“Naomi’s kindness and support for others impresses me every day. It is fantastic to have such a champion of kindness and wellbeing within the school and particularly as one of our School Prefects. She sets such a good example to our students and shows the importance of looking after one another, sharing our worries and feelings, and looking at options for support. She really deserves to be recognised for this.”
Catherine Roche, Chief Executive at Place2Be, said:
“All too often we are surrounded by stories of children’s mental health in crisis. Sadly, we hear less about the brilliant efforts made every day to support children and young people in UK schools. To redress this, Place2Be’s Wellbeing in Schools Awards recognise and showcase the remarkable work and commitment to promote mental health across our partner schools in the UK.”