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Hospice extends pioneering scheme to help children learn about emotions and resilience

Photo of pupil Sion

Building on its existing ‘Schools Project’, St Barnabas House has just launched a free Feelings Activity Book to help children aged 9-10 learn more about themselves, and understand and cope with difficult feelings around death and bereavement.

In September 2016, St Barnabas House launched its pioneering ‘Schools Project’, inviting schoolchildren into the hospice.

Over the past four years, schools have visited St Barnabas House, where pupils are paired with patients to take part in creative activities, helping them learn about hospice care and explore life, death, and bereavement.

The project is currently on hold due to the pandemic, but St Barnabas has now created a new Feelings Activity Book to help children understand and explore their emotions. 

One child who completed the activity book said it “really made me think”, and another said, “I liked the fact that you could record your ideas by doodling and drawing – sometimes that is easier when thinking about your feelings.”

The Feelings Activity Book has been put together by hospice nurse and qualified counsellor, Marcelle Palmer, who pioneered one of the first hospice schools’ projects in the country at St Barnabas House. “If we don’t talk to children about death, it becomes a topic that is feared, and they may feel negatively about the emotions that they are experiencing,” says Marcelle.

“I am always amazed to see how easily children can discuss difficult subjects that adults will often find hard, such as death and bereavement. And talking about their feelings can help them feel less anxious and more secure. We need to be having these sorts of conversations with children now more than ever, so this is a way of helping with that. The activity book is designed to help children understand and be comfortable talking about their feelings and emotions.”

Following a successful pilot test with local schools, the activity book, which also addresses national curriculum requirements (PSHE) such as health and wellbeing, relationships, resilience and loss is now available to download from the St Barnabas House website.

It is full of activities that children aged 9-10 can work on independently, in groups, or with the help of a teacher or parent.

Sion Junior School was one of the schools involved in the pilot of the activity book. Deputy Head, Tamara Pearson, said: “The St Barnabas Feelings Activity Book is absolutely superb! It is pitched exactly right and has the right balance of information and reflection. I am quite sure that many children will find this resource hugely useful.”

For more information about the St Barnabas House Feelings Activity Book, or to download a copy, please click here

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