Wow! What a week it has been, I was so fortunate last week to be part of a worship at my daughters school where I spoke to the children about mental health, their feelings and that it is ok to not be ok. We all feel sad at times but the message I wanted to get across to the children was that if they were feeling sad that they can talk about their feelings because if they fell over and hurt themselves they would naturally tell someone and the same applies to our feelings.
We spoke openly about feelings and the importance of friends and helping each other to smile. A great example I used was Winnie-The-Pooh and his friends, Eyeore often feels low but his friends always include him and try to cheer him up. I shared with the children the importance of smiling, sharing a beautiful poem by Spike Milligan about how smiling is infectious and challenged them to see how many people they could make smile that day. I showed the children some exercises that if they felt, angry, worried or sad to imagine they are blowing up a big balloon and then to let all their worries float away and also got them to take some deep breaths – the participation and engagement of the children was just fantastic, I was truly blown away and inspired to appreciate their resilience but also my role as a parent to provide a nurturing and open relationship with my own children.
As a result of this worship, I had incredible feedback from parents who were grateful for raising the importance of mental health and how we can look after ourselves by encouraging our children to talk about their feelings. So many of the children went home that night sharing the detail of the worship and how many people they made smile that day! This was wonderful to hear, I spent 15 minutes talking to the children and the impact it had is just brilliant. One Mum Naomi commented “my children were so keen to tell me how much they enjoyed worship and the importance of talking about how they feel on the inside. Their insight was really interesting and they had understood what to do when they are worried about something, they loved the smiling challenge and were so engaged – my boys struggle to talk about their feelings and this has inspired them to open up”
The impact led to Naomi’s 8 year old son Jake Aylott being inspired to write the following about Mental Health:
Everyone has feelings
Never let sad feelings get you down
Try to focus on the positive
Always take a deep breath if you feel sad
Let’s all talk about our feelings
Hey, let’s go outside and get some sunshine
Everyone has their own abilities
Ask how people feel
Love everyone around you
Think of other people who may be sad
Help people when they need it
This is just amazing! I am truly in awe by the impact of this worship and if I can inspire children to open up about their feelings, then perhaps you can make time too. We all need to invest in our wellbeing, to be healthy inside and out and if ever in doubt just SMILE and spread a little happiness along the way.