Florence Pryce, principal of Fivemiletown Primary School and Nursery Unit, is making health and wellbeing a priority for the pupils in her care.

Mrs. Pryce took up this position in April, 2021, just as the children returned from the second Covid-19 lockdown.

After spending her first term assisting pupils to get back into the routine of school, and getting to know every child, Mrs. Pryce explained that focusing on mental health and wellbeing was her next priority.

She said: “Together with staff we decided we wanted to focus on mental health and wellbeing. Our school has fully embraced the Public Health Agency’s 'Five Steps to Wellbeing' – the need to connect with other people, be physically active, learn new skills, give to others, and take time to take notice of the world around us on a daily basis.”

The staff and pupils incorporated this priority into their Eco-Schools action plan and achieved their third Green Flag award. At a Green Flag awards ceremony in Dungannon last week, staff and pupils were delighted to be described as one of the best examples of healthy living.

In May, Mrs. Pryce ran the Belfast Marathon, with two of her colleagues – Mrs. Millar and Mrs. Warrington, along with their spouses – completing the eight-mile walk for the marathon. Together, they raised £2,100 for Cancer Focus NI.

Mrs. Pryce said: “The children were very excited and encouraging when I told them I planned to run 26.2 miles. I was delighted to return to school after the bank holiday and show the children my medal.”

Mrs. Pryce explained that the children’s interest in her running naturally led to setting up an afterschool running club in the school.

“I love to see the enthusiasm, the motivation and determination these children have when running. I am very proud of them. Running is so good for their mental health,” Mrs. Pryce told this newspaper.

Throughout her first year at Fivemiletown Primary School and Nursery Unit, Mrs. Pryce aimed to create a sense of normality for the children despite the interruptions Covid-19 can cause.

"When restrictions were lifted in schools in April, it has been important to get school back to normal," said Mrs. Pryce, adding: "Last week we had Sports Day; all of our children, from Nursery to Primary 7, were delighted to take part in a day full of fun and community spirit.

"Many parents and grandparents came to support the children, and we had a wonderful day prioritising physical health and meeting with parents and grandparents.”

Before the end of term, Mrs. Pryce, along with the Parents, Teachers and Friends Association (PTFA), is planning a further event to promote mental health and wellbeing.

“We are organising a Fun Run on Friday, June 24 which commences at 7pm at the school. This will be an opportunity for pupils, parents, staff, and all of the community to get involved.

"This will be a multigenerational event; everyone can get involved to complete their Five Steps to Wellbeing.

"We are organising a five-mile run along the roads of Fivemiletown, a 5km run which will incorporate both the roads of Fivemiletown and one of the beautiful landmarks of Fivemiletown, the Round Lake; and a family walk around a historic landmark in Fivemiletown, the Blessingbourne Country Estate.

"Everyone is welcome to come along, put their running or walking boots on and enjoy a fun evening together!

“The children who have taken part in the afterschool running club are working hard to prepare for this event. They plan to run the 5km with a parent or a family member."

She continued: "I am delighted that the children have an opportunity to run in this event. They are my sporting heroes!

"This event will be an opportunity for our pupils to put their new skill into action, to connect with other runners and the wider community, be physically active, and when running, they will hopefully take time to notice the beautiful surroundings that Fivemiletown has to offer.”