In 2012, Belgin Aksoy Berkin founded Global Wellness Day (GWD), a wellness-inspired event which takes place the second Saturday of June. The theme of Global Wellness Day this year is ‘kids’ wellness.’ To celebrate that, the GWD Kids Project was created with an aim to create awareness for kids between the ages of two and seven to prevent the three biggest global problems of today: depression, crime, and obesity. Here, learn more about Berkin and discover why children’s wellness became the focus of this year’s Global Wellness Day.
What was the inspiration behind the GWD Kids Project?
We go to school from the age of two, hoping that the education system is going to help prepare us for our future, but nobody is teaching us how to live, how to breathe, how to be mindful, and how to love ourselves as these are things that are essential to be a happy adult in the future. Kids never learn in schools the fact that people can’t love others without loving themselves first. I believe that focusing on physical and mental wellness at such an early age is so important that it can even help decrease the worldwide depression and obesity rates, even crime rates.
The project will be implementing five-minute wellness circle time every day of the week, in the mornings at preschools and one-hour wellness class at elementary schools once a week in the future. In consultation with the reputable universities, clinics and wellness leaders of the world, the curriculum will be focusing on three main subjects; self-love, breathing, and mindfulness (mindful eating and mindful nature walk).
I personally think and suggest that all the governments in the world should also take an action to teach how to live well to kids but unfortunately there is not going on much about it. Of course, some private schools are doing some wellness activities for kids but as GWD, we should also be focusing on public schools to highlight the fact that wellness is for everyone. The school year of 2018-2019 will be the year we actually take the project to the private and local schools.
As a mother, how do you think wellness in the lives of children can have the largest impact?
Depression (or unhappiness) is one of the most important and irreversible birth points of the idea of Global Wellness Day. If a person is fit, or physically healthy, it does not mean that the person is well. Depression can impact every area of a person’s life—including the physical health, social life, relationships, career, and sense of self-worth. This is a vicious circle and about 800,000 people commit suicide every year. 32 percent of women are more afraid of loneliness than a cancer diagnosis.
Global Wellness Day is the only day that draws attention to the fact that the biggest danger that global community faces today is not wars, terrorist attacks or cancer but it is depression. GWD is the only day in the world that celebrates physical, mental, and emotional health as a whole. Wellness is much more than merely physical health, exercise or nutrition. It is the full integration of states of physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Wellness education should definitely start at the early ages both at home and at schools to have a largest impact on a person’s personality and on communities.
We would probably all agree that as humans living on our planet, we are not so well. We are born into a family that welcomes us with love, if we are lucky. Around the age of two or three we are sent to a pre-school, then to elementary school at the age of five or six where it will supposedly start to prepare us for our future. We study, go to high school, maybe university, and then we start working to reach up to the ideal position in our career. We get married, we decide to make babies, creating new dreamers and consumers like ourselves. And then we ask ourselves, ‘now what?’ I've been running all my life, but did I really want to get here or is it social pressure that brought me here? I am supposed to be happy, what is wrong? Here’s what is wrong: nobody is teaching us how to live. Nobody is teaching how to breath, how to accept and love ourselves so we can love others, how to coop with stress, how to manage our relationships. Imagine, starting from today all the kids in the world has a wellness circle time in pre-schools and in elementary schools. What would be different in the world? How different would the statistics be?
As a mother, I invite all the educators, journalists, mothers, fathers, universities, governments, business people, humans with heart and logic to come join us to give kids a chance to be the happy adults of tomorrow.
How have you seen GWD change since its first celebration in 2014?
Global Wellness Day was celebrated for the first time in Sapanca, Turkey in 2012. Saturday, June 9, 2018 will mark the seventh annual Global Wellness Day celebration and the fourth time the special day is being celebrated around the world. With the motto “One Day Can Change Your Whole Life,” my idea from the beginning was that wellness is not a luxury but the inherit right of every individual and I work day and night to ensure that GWD events will never be commercial and are free and open to public. It was so motivating to see that in 2016, GWD has been celebrated in 90 countries at more than 3000 different locations. In 2017, the message has spread furthermore and GWD has been celebrated in 100 countries at more than 4000 different locations. As founder of Global Wellness Day, I took home the “Leading Woman in Wellness” award at Global Wellness Summit in 2016 for creating the project that has reached over 90 countries. The full list of participating countries and locations can be found on www.globalwellnessday.com.
Is there anything else you think people should know about GWD and the GWD Kids Project?
It’s time for us in the wellness industry to take action in an era where global consumer culture is mostly damaging the concept of childhood and creating unhappy and unsatisfied child consumers. With the GWD Kids Project, kids will learn how to integrate wellness into their lives on a daily basis and to carry on those practices throughout their lives. I am thrilled with the growth of Global Wellness Day and cannot wait for the day GWD gets the United Nations recognition.