Grange Academy 'Talk a Good Game' | Scottish Rugby Schools Week

Grange Academy 'Talk a Good Game' | Scottish Rugby Schools Week

Scottish Rugby is committed to growing school and youth rugby across the country and strengthening school-to-club relationships. That's why were are hosting a second installment of Scottish Rugby Schools Week, supported by Saltire Energy from 21-27 March.

Sport and physical activity are known for having a powerful and positive effect on people’s mental wellbeing, and many rugby clubs and schools across the country are working hard to embed mental wellbeing programmes and support networks within their communities to support their players and pupils.

Jamie Houston, mathematics teacher and School of Rugby programme leader at Grange Academy not only strives to use rugby as a vehicle for driving physical wellbeing, since 2019 he has been focused on supporting players in the programme, and further afield with their mental wellbeing.

The motivation to do this was sadly spurred on by the loss of four pupils from the school who had taken their own lives.

In partnership with Kilmarnock RFC, Jamie has created on a rugby-based mental wellbeing event for Grange Academy and other high schools in Ayrshire called ‘Talk a Good Game’.

This year, the event will run during Scottish Rugby Schools Week (21-27 March), a week of school delivered rugby activity to encourage more children and young people into the sport.

Between playing games, teams participate in a range of workshops covering focusing on drugs, gambling, sexuality and bullying, subjects in life which all link into mental health.

Former and current professional sports people will lead the workshops as guest speakers, reflecting on their real-life stories, whilst also allowing pupils to share their stories which is then backed up with direct contact support networks.

“Talk a Good Game provides support to pupils by having an open door for them”, said Jamie.

“It’s important to show them it is ok and normal to have mental health difficulties but it’s even more ok and right to get help.

“Its aim and message is to change the stigma, to allow boys and girls to open up and speak about their thoughts and insecurities that they may have whilst gaining life learnings by playing rugby.”

“We try to cover all areas concerning mental health, as we’ve had people speak about the misuse of drugs, negative language around sexuality, and mental health first aid lessons have been provided, whilst bullying and gambling get covered too." Jamie Houston, Grange Academy teacher

Scottish Rugby has supported the 'Talk a Good Game' project since its inception in 2019.

It is Jamie’s hope that ‘Talk a Good Game’ will continue to encourage young people to not only be open about their mental wellbeing, but use rugby to make better decisions and gain positive life experiences.

He added: “I’ve seen at first-hand what this permanent act does to the families and friends who had a relationship with that person, and it’s proven that kids who are involved with rugby or a sport in general are 54 percent less likely to get in trouble outside of school.

“Sport is such a powerful tool to use in any young person’s life, it gets them out and engaging with others, it’s a newfound way for them to cope or manage their problems and fears through using their body rather than it being stuck in their mind.

“I now watch students I used to speak with and teach in these workshops playing and refereeing local rugby games, which in my eyes means I’ve done something right to help that individual and they’ve achieved something as well.”

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