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A Long Stratton school puts its pupils’ mental health first

PUBLISHED: 14:15 07 July 2017 | UPDATED: 14:35 07 July 2017

Pupils at St Mary's Church of England Junior Academy in Long Stratton taking part in a mindfulness workshop. Picture: Danielle Beuttell

Pupils at St Mary's Church of England Junior Academy in Long Stratton taking part in a mindfulness workshop. Picture: Danielle Beuttell

Archant

A Norfolk school put its pupils’ mental health at the forefront when it hosted a theatre performance and workshop to encourage mindfulness.

Pupils at St Mary's Church of England Junior Academy in Long Strattonl practising their play about mindfulness. Picture: Danielle Beuttell Pupils at St Mary's Church of England Junior Academy in Long Strattonl practising their play about mindfulness. Picture: Danielle Beuttell

St Mary’s Church of England Junior School in Long Stratton was amongst the first in the country to take part in the sessions run by Konflux Theatre.

A global survey by the Varkey Foundation showed the UK has the second poorest mental health well-being among students in the world - second only to Japan.

In the study nearly half of pupils indicated their biggest worries were about money, health and social pressures.

The workshop began with a mindfulness session allowing pupils to experience mindfulness techniques that teachers can develop in the classroom.

The rest of the day was spent rehearsing ‘Take a Deep Breath’ by Chris Chilton which explores the science and practise of mindfulness in a fun way.

Year 5 teacher Dannielle Beuttell said: “It was lovely to see the children being able to spend time discussing their wellbeing.

“I was very impressed at how well they performed, with only one day to rehearse!

“The children began the day with no idea about mindfulness but by the end of the workshop, they understood what it meant, how stress affects the body and strategies to cope when this happens.”

One pupil said: “ I learned that the brain expands when you worry.”

Another student said: “I learned there are certain parts of the brain that control stress, and that breathing in and out can really help.”

The children were taught coping strategies such as how to write down their concerns as ‘thought buses’ to stop them worrying.

Artistic Director of Konflux, Anthony Koncsol said: “Through our Play in a Day and Creative Learning workshops we engage with children and young people by providing information that they can absorb in a safe environment.

“Mindfulness is a practice that individuals and groups can do on a day-to-day basis.

“It can enable people to change the way they think and feel about their experiences - especially stressful experiences.

“It can increase our ability to manage difficult situations and make wise choices.”

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