Founded by Hollywood actress Goldie Hawn, The Hawn Foundation supports and promotes the work of MindUp in their creation and delivery of a classroom-based Mindfulness curriculum across all school ages. Having been a long-standing advocate of meditation-type practice in education, I made contact with their Director of Education & Training, Julia and visited them in their London office. I was keen to offer my services and was asked to create to a Literacy document, detailing accessibility of the recommended books here in the UK and suggesting alternative titles. At a later date, I also presented the team with a Pecha Kucha on the story of my work on meditation & relaxation with young people in an educational environment, dating back to 1998.
My connection with the Foundation continues as I trained with them in June 2018 enabling me to deliver their MINDUP Mindfulness curriculum to children and young people.
A Birmingham-based not-for-profit youth development organisation. I was invited to work alongside young creative artists, collaborating with them to produce an event funded by the Arts Council to showcase creativity across diverse communities within South Birmingham and to promote positive mental wellbeing through the arts. As host and MC, it was my responsibility to engage with each act and understand the aim of their performance. This called upon both my public-speaking and facilitation skills. See photo opposite, with spoken word artists Christian Deveaux (Boy October) & Kapes A Witness, and Dance Teacher & Performer Thomas Oflaherty.
I have been hired by two local primary schools for short-term input. One required the delivery of KS2 French for two days each week. My remit from the HT was to 'make it fun', so I devised a plethora of interactive activities, including a dance routine to help learn the vocabulary for the parts of the body! The other required a tutor for small group teaching, to target under-achieving pupils in Y6 in preparation for their SATS. I delivered a short-term intervention of a few weeks in the Autumn term, to boost their confidence in their own abilities and to help them to identify their own personal learning style.
In collaboration with Aspire4U, a Birmingham-based Community Interest Company, I planned and delivered workshops for KS3/4 Aston Manor Academy immersion day, on the theme of Emotional Wellbeing and Healthy Relationships.
I was similarly invited to contribute to the pre-planning and facilitated at an immersion day with Moseley School on the theme of Culture and Identity through the medium of poetry. I had the pleasure of working alongside professional spoken word artist, @lexialegend, and writer and Switch Radio presenter, Ashlee Roberts.
I have also worked with a local secondary school as a private tutor to a Looked After Child. I oversaw the KS3 - 4 transition with targeted input in Maths and some English. I was extremely pleased that the Head of House that I had liaised with went on to recommend me to other pastoral staff in the school.
A female-led, award-winning theatre company, founded by Janice Connolly BEM (AKA Radio 2's Barbara Nice). They develop partnership projects across arts, health, education & community sectors. After meeting with Janice, I was invited to support and facilitate on their Word Lounge Project based at the Birmingham Hippodrome. A group of young carers, looked-after children and young people with additional & special needs were invited to create their own piece of performance art with the support of professional creative artists over the course of six Saturday afternoons. I was pleased to be invited back to perform a similar role on the Bronze Level Arts Award Project that W&T ran from the Hippodrome, again for young carers and young people with additional needs.
I was asked to collaborate again with Aspire4U CIC in the provision of several Comedy Workshops as part of an Arts and Culture immersion day. My own particular emphasis highlights the connection between positive mental health in the form of self-acceptance, positive self-regard and self-validation through creativity and self-expression. Neither can we ignore the positive effect of laughter as a mood enhancer and the positive social impact of bonding with others through our humour.
With my extensive background of working with vulnerable young people, I was invited in and entrusted with the role of facilitating a workshop forming part of a day of creative activities, during which young people were able to express their feelings about being in care. Their views were recorded and collated and fed back. Under the non-threatening umbrella of 'comedy', we explored the participants' 'best ever memory' of being in care and the young people were encouraged and supported in creating a small piece of performance art to convey this to the audience. Examples were a funny story that happened on a holiday with carers and a story full of affection for how a young girl met her best friend while in care. Care was taken in establishing the group's 'Circle of Trust' (see photo opposite), and I led a short guided meditation with the group to focus our attention on the positive memories and to encourage relaxation and creativity in our thoughts.
As part of a Summer Camp 2018, I was invited by the organisers to deliver sessions on Mindfulness and Meditation. All pupils were primary age, with most being KS1. I used my recent training with MINDUP TM UK at The Hawn Foundation UK as the basis of the sessions, alongside some long-standing relaxation practice I have taught for almost 20 years. I simplified the MINDUP curriculum to deliver some very basic but effective neuroscience learning. Each day, I finished the session with a themed guided meditation for 10 minutes.
By the end of the week, all children were able to name the main parts of the brain, explain their role and how and why it is important to practice some form of calming or soothing, focused ‘mindfulness’ or meditation. They left the sessions with a number of ways to self-soothe or self- regulate if they feel anxious or distressed, and with tools to help them relax every day.
Hippo, Woo & Miggy - my neuroscience 'colleagues' - each represent & explain a different brain part.