A reception class in Ipswich will be the first to receive a storybook written by independent mental health charity, Suffolk Mind to teach them about the benefits of movement on their mental health.
The charity will be visiting The Willows Primary School in Ipswich today (Friday 24th September) to make the first of many deliveries of the storybook, Sammy the Sea Squirt.
The author of the book, and Head of Education at Suffolk Mind, Ezra Hewing, will be doing a special reading, the Children and Young People’s Trainer at Suffolk Mind, Louise Harris, will be leading a movement session and the book illustrator, Emma Graham will be hosting a drawing session.
Every reception aged child (four-to-five-years-old) across Suffolk will receive a copy of Sammy the Sea Squirt in the next two weeks, following a successful Crowdfunding appeal launched on World Book Day in March 2021. In total, 8,000 copies of the book have been published to give out for free.
Ezra Hewing said: “We launched this important project as we want to ensure that children from a young age know the benefits of exercise on their mental health. Movement and exercise makes the heart and body strong and healthy, but it also burns off harmful stress hormones to stop them damaging children’s brains when they are at their most vulnerable.
“We are very excited that every reception aged child will have access to this beautiful book and be able take a copy home with them. We want them to learn an important lesson in a fun way through the character Sammy the Sea Squirt, who moves with ocean friends to look after memory and emotions.”
The Willows Primary School held their own Sammy the Sea Squirt fundraising day, to raise more than £800 towards the campaign. The pupils dressed up in colourful clothes and took part in lots of fun educational activities to mark the day.
Paul Arch, Headteacher at the Willows Primary school said: “Developing an understanding of how to support and maintain our own mental health and wellbeing is vital for children so they can become resilient adults. As a school, we do a lot of therapeutic based work with our children and see the benefits that this has.
“It was important to get involved with the Sammy the Sea Squirt campaign because there is a lack of high-quality resources for young children and so we felt strongly that providing every reception aged child with a book to support them, was beneficial. As a Thrive school, this fits perfectly with our existing work and dovetails in with our ethos and values.”
Suffolk’s Most Active County Partnership and Public Health Suffolk have supported the campaign throughout and will be distributing the books to children over the next two weeks.
Cllr Andrew Reid, Cabinet Member for Public Health, Public Protection, & Communities, said: “Suffolk County Council has been proud to support Suffolk Mind with this initiative and I am delighted that we can now offer a copy of the book to every Reception aged child in Suffolk.
“The book offers children a fun way to learn about the importance of physical activity on their mental and physical wellbeing and helps to encourage them to be active from a young age, building strong foundations for being active throughout their lives.”
Suffolk Mind will also be visiting four libraries across Suffolk on Saturday 25th September, to share the story with the wider public. The charity will be hosting book readings, movement sessions and illustration tutorials in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, Mildenhall and Lowestoft. The libraries will be gifted free copies of Sammy the Sea Squirt for the local community to access. Visit www.suffolkmind.org.uk/sammytheseasquirt for more details.