In her role as the service pupils’ champion with North Yorkshire County Council, Nickie Young found an increasing number of families seeking support for anxiety in their children. It prompted her to create workshops for different age groups to help them find ways to cope. We caught up with Nickie to find out more…
NICKIE explained that the workshops have three stages, beginning with an interactive story for early years children about a little boy called Max who can’t sleep because of the worries that come into his brain.
“Through the story we discuss how important it is to share worries and show the children some breathing and stretching exercises which help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety,” she said.
For years four-to-seven, the story of Caveman Bob talks about where anxiety comes from and how it can affect your body. “It encourages children to share how anxiety affects them; this helps them understand that they’re not alone in their feelings and they’re quite normal,” said Nickie. “We also discuss how important healthy eating, sleep and exercise are in reducing anxiety.”
The final workshop, for year eight upwards, considers how hormones can affect anxiety and allows them to explore the impact it can have. “We recently added workshops which we hope will help young people improve their self-esteem,” Nickie added.
So far, she’s received positive feedback. “I’m so happy my daughter is getting help with her anxiety,” said a parent. “She said it was great learning techniques to overcome her fears.” One service youngster added: “I liked how we told the truth about how we felt, and we learnt very important information in a fun way.”
The self-esteem workshop revolves around being kind: “It’s key for children to recognise that the language they use towards themselves and others has an impact and we should all try to make that a positive one,” said Nickie.
“I believe it’s essential for children to understand that mental health is a continuum which we’re all on,” explained Nickie. “Some days we’re good and some days we’re not so good and that’s okay. If we can give children an understanding of mental health and the ability to talk about it, they will hopefully be better equipped to deal with any issues that arise in adulthood.”
The workshops have also enabled Nickie and her colleagues to identify children who may benefit from further support. They continue to be offered to schools in the North Yorkshire area – find out more at servicepupilschampion.co.uk