Global Development Studies
Sustainable Success: A Student-Led Wellbeing Project
by Lillian F.
“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, sacrifice, and most of all, love of what you are doing.” This quote by the renowned former soccer player, Pelé, is exactly what Sustainable Success advocates for.
Sustainable Success is a project started in September 2019 in Shanghai in hope to promote student wellbeing, soft skills, and lifestyle balance as well as inspire healthy conversations around these topics. Lillian and Anita, the founders of Sustainable Success, have personally witnessed and experienced the burdening academic stress, time-management struggles, and lack of lifestyle balance in high school students.
They wished to change that—starting from their own school. Lillian and Anita started by presenting at weekly school assemblies about different psychology topics that are related to specific school events: importance of collaboration at the start of school, toxic positivity for sporting events, gratitude for Thanksgiving, stress management for exam week, etc.
Between assemblies, Sustainable Success hosted discussions and conducted surveys to make sure that student voices are heard. To many people’s surprise, discussions and surveys showed that high school students often shared similar emotions and experiences during specific times of the school year: we all get stressed and we all wish to become more collaborative. These survey results reaffirmed their mission of bringing students together to express their common sentiments for their personal and collective wellbeing.
Furthermore, Lillian and Anita were given the opportunity to speak to parents about the various topics that they explored as well as the student survey results that they collected. Based on their findings about their peers, they were able to offer a student perspective on the discussion of education and parenting at their school. They suggested that parents should encourage their children to acknowledge and accept their negative emotions instead of denying them and affirm their children’s strengths and accomplishments instead of picking at their flaws and mistakes.
Over the last few months of 2019, Sustainable Success gained trust and support from their peers. The student body started to get the message that “we are all in this together” and were more open to the idea of talking about their emotions and struggles with their trusted friends and family. However, this momentum was briefly interrupted by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in February 2020. There were no longer assemblies, there were no longer spaces where student discussions could be held, and there were no longer routines or normalcy in their school schedules.
Following a few discussions, Lillian and Anita decided to turn to their social media platform to communicate with their peers. They continued their “themed topics” through Instagram posts about coping with procrastination, loneliness, and a lack of a balanced lifestyle during the pandemic. They tried to balance informative psychological explanations with applicable tips into each post to make sure that it is both educational and reassuring for their peers to read. Sustainable Success also hosted virtual discussions, yoga, and guided meditations to encourage their peers to destress and share their experiences and insights during their quarantine.
Moreover, Sustainable Success posted a few YouTube video presentations, providing more specific advice on how to find intrinsic motivation, accept and manage loneliness, and prepare for the AP exams. These videos were sent out to other international schools in Asia as well as schools in the US. This process inspired Lillian and Anita to explore ways to reach out to a wider audience to spread their positive messages to more people.
It is no doubt that high school can be busy, stressful, and overwhelming at times. But with the right mindset and soft skills, these experiences can turn out to be incredibly rewarding and invigorating. The “success” that Sustainable Success advocates for is not some grand certification of triumph, but the sustainable everyday achievements that give young adults the sense of growth and purpose as they journey through their high school lives.
To get involved, follow us on Instagram @sustainablesuccessproject and on YouTube as Sustainable Success
Lillian F. is a student of Global Development Studies at Concordia International School Shanghai. She and fellow student Anita F. won a 2020 Concordia Service Award for their Sustainable Success project.