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AO and Sale Sharks have teamed up to launch a mental health programme in North West schools, The Manc

AO and Sale Sharks have teamed up to launch a mental health programme in North West schools

‘Are you AO-K’ is designed to raise awareness among children about positive mental health and wellbeing.

AO and Sale Sharks have joined forces to launch a new mental health initiative that’ll be rolled-out in schools across the North West.

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The ‘Are you AO-K’ initiative is a life-changing mental health programme that has been launched by Bolton-based online electricals retailer and Sale Sharks’ new headline sponsor, AO, alongside the charitable partner of the Sale Sharks rugby team, Sharks Community Trust – who use rugby and the values of the sport to change lives across the region.

It was first introduced at St Matthew’s Little Lever Primary School in Bolton yesterday, with help from Sale Sharks and England star, Jason Robinson.

After recognising how difficult the past 18 months have been for young people due to the COVID-19 pandemic, AO, Sale Sharks, and the Community Trust Team teamed up to create a dedicated curriculum for local schools.

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‘Are you AO-K’ is designed to raise awareness among children about positive mental health and wellbeing.

The courses – which are being taught in schools across the North West – will last for six weeks at a time, and the programme will run in 125 schools throughout the region over the next five years, meaning that hundreds of children will get the chance to benefit from this ground-breaking scheme.

A core part of the curriculum is teaching the link between physical and mental health.

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Children will learn what a balanced diet is, and how this helps nourish both the body and the mind, and after all stages of the programme, they will be encouraged to discuss what they enjoyed about the task to help them recognise that exercise is a great way of boosting happy hormones.

As some children may not be completely comfortable with communicating their emotions verbally, they will also be taught more practical methods to manage negative feelings too.

Throughout the lessons, there will also be signposting for services such as NHS, Childline, MIND, Healthy Young Minds and Hub of Hope, and at the end of each course, wellbeing packs will be given to every child that takes part.

“Supporting mental health and wellbeing is a really important and exciting part of our partnership with Sale Sharks,” said Vicky Monk – Director of Customer & Brand at AO.

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“The last 18 months have been incredibly challenging for everyone, especially children, having faced huge disruption to their daily lives, so it’s vital that we come together to make sure young people know they can speak up about their mental health [and] at AO, we’re passionate about helping young people realise their potential.

“We hope that Are You AO-K creates a lasting, positive impact on the children involved.”

Featured Image – AO

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