As well as promoting reading for wellbeing, The Story Project also shares some ideas for how children can use writing activities to benefit their wellbeing, starting with our Happy Place Book:
‘Green feathers, sparkling sequins, yellow silk and multi-coloured madness all flash past you in a blur. Amid these colours are people dancing to a heavy samba beat, while smiling and waving up at you. You are sat on a hard concrete chair in the stands of a massive auditorium, but you don’t mind the hard chair, because you are bobbing up and down in excitement. The crowd is so close to you that you can smell a mixture of sugary and musky perfumes. The air is hot, but you cool yourself down with a sweet, cold can of fizzy drink. Aaaa. It feels refreshing at the back of your throat and it makes your tongue tingle. You look around you at the buzzing crowd and feel encapsulated by a fervent energy as everyone is smiling and dancing along to the carnival beat’
When you are stressed, sometimes you just need a holiday in a safe and happy place where you can recuperate. However, a daily trip to the warm buzz of Brazil Carnival as detailed above is very unrealistic. In today’s fast-paced world there often is barely five minutes for a short break in times of stress, so what we need is a way to create an escape that we can dive into for two minutes anywhere at any time. This is why I am encouraging young people to write about their Happy Places. This means that when a young person is feeling stressed they can simply listen to a recording or read an extract of their happy places. Young People should be encouraged to make their description of their happy place as detailed and descriptive as possible so they can fully immerse themselves in this place, but also so they can develop and practice a number of their literacy skills whilst creating this stress-busting resource.
Stress busting resources are particularly needed at the moment as 90% of headteachers report an increase in the stress and anxiety of their students over the last 5 years. We are also at a poignant time for stress as the exam season kicks off soon with 6/7 and 10/11 year olds sitting their SATS, and 15/16 year olds beginning their GCSE’S. It is at potentially stressful times of the year like this that we really need to ensure that as well as the knowledge to do well in their tests, young people also have the tools to manage the stress and expectations that also come with exams.
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