During national Children’s Mental Health Week, Newington Community Primary School in Ramsgate explored a range of fun initiatives that reinforced the ongoing discussion and education around mental health awareness and support.
Teacher James Bennett, who is PSHE Lead (Personal, Social, Health and Economic education), organised a range of daily activities around the theme ‘express yourself’.
This included boys and girls creating mood monsters and mood boards to show the wide range of feelings that can be felt at any time, designing posters and artwork to reflect emotions, performing expressive dances and writing about what makes them happy.
Dress to Express day gave children the chance to express themselves through their clothes, hair or accessories; they wore their favourite colours to illustrate how they were feeling – colour can be very personal and mean different things to different people, so it was a great opportunity for self-expression and to demonstrate their own emotions.
Mr Bennett said: “It was fantastic to bring all the school together at home and in the classroom with lots of activities to help equip children with strategies to maintain a healthy mind and great well-being.
“To show that expressing ourselves isn’t just for children, the teachers ran a masked singer competition via streamed online performances.
“With guessing happening each day from the children and parents, the big reveal at the end of the week left some people shocked and stunned – but it was great fun. Who knew Newington had such hidden talent among its staff!”
The performers, their alter-egos and songs were: Sunny (Miss Bowyer) who sang Happy; Mighty Lion (Miss Wheatley) who chose The Lion Sleeps Tonight; Evergreen (Mr Bennett) who performed Try Everything; Disco Medusa (Miss Pitt) who chose This Is What Dreams Are Made Of; and Mischief Monster (Mr Ford) who sang You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile.
Meanwhile the weekly singing assemblies streamed to youngsters in school and at home featured two of the school’s original anthems, ‘Team Newington’ and ‘Winning’ which underpinned the positivity of the week-long learning.
Head Teacher Cliff Stokes said the week’s events were an important way to support the wide range of personal development, health awareness and support strategies that form part of daily life at the school.
He added: “We work consistently hard to support our children in their achievements – we help them understand that to realise their aspirations they need to be able to express their individuality and emotions.
“I was proud to see pupils expressing themselves in so many ways and showing their usual grit and zest that makes our Newington community so special.”
Assistant Head Teacher Taralee Kennedy added: “Well-being and happiness are the foundations on which we are able to ensure that children learn and achieve their potential. This week has added so much to the on-going work that we do, to ensure that children grow up into well-balanced, articulate, and happy young adults.”
The nationwide week ran from February 1 and is organised by Place2B the children’s mental health charity that aims to shine a spotlight on the importance of children and young people’s mental health.
It states: “Expressing yourself is about finding ways to share feelings, thoughts, or ideas, through creativity. This could be through art, music, writing and poetry, dance and drama, photography and film, and doing activities that make you feel good.
“It’s important to remember that being able to express yourself is not about being the best at something or putting on a performance for others. It is about finding a way to show who you are, and how you see the world, that can help you feel good about yourself.”
Place2B online at www.place2be.org.uk
HeadStart Kent’s Kent Resilience Hub: https://kentresiliencehub.org.uk
Kent County Council’s dedicated mental health and well-being pages: www.kent.gov.uk/wellbeing
HeadStart Kent’s MoodSpark website: https://moodspark.org.uk/
Kooth’s website: https://www.kooth.com/
The Young Minds website: https://youngminds.org.uk/
The NSPCC’s guides: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/keeping-children-safe/coronavirus-advice-suppport-children-families-parents/