On Saturday 6th July we held our first Emotional Health Workshop for children aged 8-12 years old at The Enterprise Centre in Derby. After working with children and young people 1:1 and in small groups for so long we were excited to work with a larger group of children and get them introduced to emotional literacy in a relaxed and fun way.
We started our morning looking at different elements of emotional health ('joining the dots') and what emotions are, how they can feel in our bodies and how they can sometimes feel scary. Giving children this knowledge and developing their understanding can help to take away a lot of the fear surrounding these big and difficult emotions, as well as starting conversation around how they feel and why.
The crafts could then commence and we both LOVED watching the creativity in the room, the images were incredibly insightful and opened up some beautiful conversations between children and their trusted adults.
To build emotional resilience in children looking at emotions and exploring how they feel in their bodies is vital. For some children this can be extremely difficult, when we talking about emotions things can feel a bit too intense. Using emotional literacy based activities in this way keeps things fun and empowers children to feel more confident in their ability to 'tune in' to what their feelings are telling them.
We were blown away by the creativity in the room, but also by how engaged the children were with the short talks in-between activities. Getting the children to come and demonstrate some strategies, as well as telling the room about their creations added a lot of fun to the morning; the hand massage and stretching appeared to be firm favourites.
Anxiety disorders are on the rise in children, young people and adults. Understanding what anxiety is is a key component in being able to prevent extra anxiety (we meet many children who are anxious about being anxious) Looking at the biology behind anxiety helps us to feel less fearful of it.
Children shared what they currently use in those difficult moments and they ranged from "Tell myself I'm amazing" to walking away and "Taking big breaths", they definitely all took away new strategies to practice during those times.
Ensuring children know that it's okay to experience big and difficult emotions and letting them know that we all feel that way at various times is really important, but so is trying to cultivate habits where we are able to practice gratitude, this can help us during difficult times in our lives, as Jennifer openly talked about.
Every child who attended the workshop took home a copy of the 'Happy Self Journal' so they could continue their emotional literacy journey at home, but not before a visit from our special guest.
Andy Cope is a local author and a doctor of happiness and he certainly made us all happy. The children were so engaged and the room was full of laughter as we discussed things that HAVEN'T HAPPENED that we could celebrate - we certainly have some imaginative minds in the city!
The morning was a huge success and we can't wait to have the funds to be able to run another one soon - could you help with this? If your organisation would like to sponsor one of these workshops then please get in touch, we want to keep them as affordable as this one and be able to run them more regularly. the children in our city deserve these opportunities and here's the FANTASTIC thing about them - they make a difference! They help children look after their mental health, understand what it is, have more language and opportunity to express themselves and to get more comfortable doing so.
Reading through the evaluation forms from the children made us so happy so we will leave you with a selection of feedback and a few more images. Want this workshop in your school? Get in touch to find out how - let's make a difference to all children, talk emotions early and often.
"Emotional health is fun!" 7 year old
"It's good to talk about our feelings!" 10 year old
"If I have a problem, I don't need to keep it to myself." 10 year old
"I learnt to love myself." 8 year old
"I learnt ways to cope with stress and worries" 12 year old
"It's okay to have big feelings."
"This was brilliant! My daughter really enjoyed the morning. Lots to take in and think about at home. Thank you, we look forward to attending more Bridge the Gap events." Parent
"Amazing value, thank you!" Parent
"It was a lovely workshop. We have lots of useful strategies to be able to help with managing emotions and feelings. Thank you so much." Parent