St Mark’s Catholic Primary School in Ipswich have been the first in the area to engage in a new initiative designed by Suffolk Mind to support children to engage in physical activity and understand the link between mental and physical health.
The school resource produced and delivered by Suffolk Mind, comes after the charity were successful in securing money from the Sport England Together Fund project which has been locally managed and distributed by the team at Active Suffolk.
Ten schools across Ipswich will benefit from this programme with thanks to the funding, where the production and provision of the resource will support teachers in offering a complimentary, yet unique type of physical activity session for children, outside of the traditional curriculum.
The new initiative launching with St Marks Primary School in Ipswich, coinciding with World Mental Health Day, was developed following the success of the Sammy the Sea Squirt book released in March 2021. The book, which was developed by Ezra Hewing, Head of Education at Suffolk Mind, came after reports suggested that 35% of children said their wellbeing had worsened as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition to the delivery of the physical activity sessions which have been developed, each school involved in this project will receive 600 copies of the Sammy the Sea Squirt book.
Andrea Stribling, Children, Families and Young People Manager from Suffolk Mind said:
“We were excited for the opportunity to work with Active Suffolk, who have provided funding to deliver Sammy movement sessions for Primary Schools in the Ipswich area.
The sessions are based on Suffolk Mind’s first story book Sammy the Sea squirt and provide a fun way for children to engage in movement and how this links to their mental health, teaching them the value of movement for the rest of their lives.”
Rosemarie Birch, PE Teacher at St Marks Catholic Primary School said:
“We received details of this opportunity back in July and before then I hadn’t seen these sessions being delivered before. It looked really exciting, and I couldn’t wait for our school to get involved.
Physical activity and the link to mental health and wellbeing is something we are very passionate about promoting in our school and it is a big focus of ours. We have a couple of wellbeing days each year, a healthy living week and the Daily Mile amongst other initiatives.
The session delivered by Suffolk Mind today, is a great example of how increased movement can have a positive impact on the children’s wellbeing, but also their ability to focus. It has been absolutely amazing, the workshop was so colourful, varied and the children engaged with all aspects of it really well.”
The sessions which are facilitated by Louise Harris from Suffolk Mind, shares the story of Sammie the Sea squirt whilst also engaging them in movement, fun games and breathing exercises, teaching them to regulate their emotions, stay calm and focus on tasks.
“Since the book launch, we have been delivering these in school sessions and we are taking new bookings all the time.
The children really benefit as it teaches them to use useful breathing techniques which can help them to keep calm. They also learn how physical activity and movement can help them to feel happier and less overwhelmed and once they have those skills, they can practice and apply them when needed.”
The Sport England Together Fund, which was used to support this project is a continuation of the Tackling Inequalities Fund that was set up in April 2020 in response to the impact of the pandemic on physical activity and sport across the country. Since the launch of this fund, Active Suffolk have played a pivotal role in soliciting bids and distributing funding to organisations and charities who support those from more disadvantaged backgrounds in Suffolk.
Andrew Crowe, Development Officer for Insight and Evaluation at Active Suffolk said:
“This initiative is one of a number of successful Together Fund projects addressing widening inequalities and increasing physical activity levels among disadvantaged groups in Suffolk.
With rising levels of physical inactivity around the county – particularly amongst minority groups – we are delighted to be able to use the Together Fund on behalf of Sport England to support a number of communities and to see the direct impact these awards produce.
If you work with a group that meet the fund’s criteria (long-term health conditions, disability, minority ethnic groups or lower socio-economic groups – primarily within Ipswich), we welcome a discussion about the fund and the suitability of your organisation applying.”
For more information about Suffolk Mind and their school sessions visit www.suffolkmind.org.uk
[Media release issued by Active Suffolk]