“Physical activity changes lives” says new Health, Wellbeing and Sport Leader

The Health, Wellbeing and Sport (HWS) Team at Truro and Penwith College are celebrating the launch of its new timetable of activities open to all students and staff, and the new programme leader has been discussing her unique journey and her enthusiasm about the positive effect that both activity and stillness can have on anyone.

“The HWS programme at the College changed my life, and now I’m running the programme,” says Sheona Cornes, the new Health, Wellbeing & Sport Coordinator.

The HWS programme is a multi-award-winning initiative to improve the mental and physical wellbeing of staff and students. Sheona Cornes, the new Project Coordinator, previously worked in many other roles at the College since 2015. She was encouraged to give some HWS sessions a go, and that led to others. Now she leads the programme and is based in Truro, while Mark Stevens, the Project Lead Assistant, is based at Penwith.

Over 200 staff and students have engaged with Truro HWS sessions already in the first half-term of the 2021-22 academic year, and over 90 at Penwith. Now the new timetable designed by Sheona is set to launch on Monday 01 November, after the autumn half-term break.

“All the sessions are inclusive and open to all,” says Sheona. “The NHS suggest 5 ways to wellbeing: connecting with other people, being physically active, learning new skills, giving to others and practicing mindfulness. I am extremely pleased to say that the HWS timetable is offers all of these opportunities free to students and staff.

“I have worked in various roles across the College and appreciate the stresses that College life and work bring. As a mum I have always been active, but I don’t class myself as ‘sporty.’ I saw others who attended sessions from the programme come back buzzing. I went to a spinning (Cardio Cycle) class, it was a challenge but afterwards I felt so energised that I felt compelled to attend again! I found that taking part in physical activity at lunchtime meant my afternoon was much more focused. It helps to get out of the head and into the body, taking a break and doing something different puts things into perspective, and the outcome is increased productivity.

“People see others going to classes, and they bring others along also. The HWS programme helped me mentally and physically and then I started running, doing running events with College staff and students. It made me think: ‘if I can do that, I can do other things’. It broadened my horizons as to what I can achieve. I have seen the change in myself. For me it has been amazing. 

“I volunteered as a College ‘Activator’ in my free time, supporting the HWS programme in various sessions including, dance, boxercise and circuit sessions. I have been pro-active with student referrals, actively encouraging students with a range of social issues to participate in physical activities including circuits, boxing and badminton and have enjoyed seeing them thrive and progress from College.”

Sheona is responsible for the new timetable that launches on 01 November, after the Autumn half-term. “I’m very proud of it” says Sheona. “If we learned anything from the last few years it’s that our mental health and well-being should be our top priority. HWS helps to apply some wellbeing into work/study, boosts our mood, helps us find happiness and a way to re-energise.

“I am encouraging staff and students to take a look at the HWS timetable and see where they can switch up their weekly routine. We have everything from a stress releasing boxing or fitness session, to a ‘knit and natter’ or a quick mindfulness meditation during a coffee break. There should be something for everyone!”

The timetable offers sessions before, during and after College, so everyone is able to access something, no matter what their timetable, study or work pattern.

Popular activities include Boxing Workout, gym sessions and spinning (Cardio Cycle). New sessions include ‘Legs, Bums and Tums,’ ‘Weigh to Go,’ (using NHS online services, exercise equipment, and keeping food diaries), ‘Walk and Talk,’ ‘Knit and natter,’ and swimming. Areas of growth for the future include other College departments getting involved, such as IB students putting on sessions as part of the ‘CAS’ requirement on their course. Some tutor groups also visit the team for stress relief and wellbeing purposes.

Mindfulness Meditation sessions also run in six sessions across five days a week. “Becoming more aware of the present moment can help us enjoy the world around us more and understand ourselves better,” says Sheona.

“The HWS Team are all fantastic. We’re open to ideas, too. If anyone has a new idea or a talent they’d like to share, get in touch. Anyone who has an idea and wants to put on a session can email me on sheonac@truro-penwith.ac.uk.”

Of her new leadership role, Sheona says: “I feel privileged. I love encouraging people and seeing them achieve their goals. I get a lot out of that. I am passionate about helping others to reap the benefits of this fantastic inclusive College initiative and look forward to driving it forward this year.”

See the new HWS timetable for Truro College here and for Penwith College here.

Find out more about the Health, Wellbeing and Sport programme here