AWARE launches mindfulness in primary schools
AWARE, the depression charity for Northern Ireland, has launched a new mindfulness programme for primary school children. Paws b, designed and licensed by the Mindfulness in Schools Project (MiSP), was the focus of the Mindfulness in Schools Conference: Free your Mind, which took place on Monday 26 February at Crumlin Road Gaol, Belfast.
Bernard McAnaney, Chair, AWARE Board of Trustees said, “Mindfulness is about giving your full attention to what is happening in the present moment – to what is happening in your body, your mind and your surroundings. Research has shown that mindfulness can have a significant positive effect on the emotional wellbeing of children.
“Paws b has been carefully crafted by teachers and mindfulness experts to engage young children. It is taught in primary schools and ideally to 7 to 11 year olds. The programme aims to help children feel happier and calmer, help them cope better with stress and anxiety, and help them concentrate and get on better with others. Paws b is usually taught over six weeks in one hour sessions, however AWARE can tailor this to suit the school.”
Claire Kelly, Director of Curricula & Training, MiSP and keynote speaker at the event added, “MiSP are really excited to be part of the AWARE event. It feels like this is an important time to be introducing young people and those who work and care for them to mindfulness. It's also great to see how much interest there is in bringing mindfulness into schools in Northern Ireland, and AWARE has a great deal to offer in terms of supporting this goal.”
The morning conference included an overview of a Paws b lesson, Our Amazing Brain and reflections from Principals Heather Watson, Phoenix Integrated Primary & Nursey School, Cookstown and Fiona Kennedy, St Columba’s Primary School, Straw, on the impact that Paws b has had in their schools.
With the mental health of children in focus during February, delegates also heard first-hand what Phoenix Integrated pupils learned from their Paws b sessions, and how they have benefited.