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In total, four schools are involved in the unique shared learning exchange. Two primary schools from different Urban Village areas of Belfast were paired up – Elmgrove Primary School from east Belfast (Eastside) and Christ the Redeemer from Colin, in the west of the city.
In a separate project in Fermanagh; two post-primary schools, Enniskillen Royal Grammar and St. Michael’s College have also been working together.
During the school year the primary school children completed Better Together, and the secondary school students completed Mental Health Ambassador and Peer Mentoring, all with lead partner Action Mental Health.
Pupils then came together for a series of workshops with Joel Simon of Hola Lola Animations where they learned how to animate drawings using an iPad and digital stylus.
A Senior Teacher at Enniskillen Royal Grammar, Mrs Kettyle, described the project as: “An excellent opportunity for our pupils to develop skills in ICT and social and emotional well-being.”
Another teacher, Mrs O’Reilly from St Michael’s College, commented that the programme had been “excellent” and that pupils had “loved” taking part. She said:
“Pupils were expertly guided and facilitated in producing wonderful creative animations” adding that the project had been: “a wonderful shared education workshop which enabled pupils to interact freely whilst exploring key issues based upon the trauma LENS.”
The pupil’s creations will reflect what they have learned about mental health, with the young people designing and voicing the characters in the animations themselves. Through OUR Generation, children learn how to regulate their own feelings and emotions and how to respond to different situations.
Nicola McKeown, Acting Vice Principal of Christ the Redeemer Primary School, said the school was “delighted” to have taken part in OUR Generation, with 12 pupils recently completing Better Together. She said:
“The children are now animating their Better Together skills, discussing their emotions and their well-being, and all the strategies they have been taught through the programme.
“The delivery we had was fantastic – it is very clear that the facilitators are passionate about what they’re doing, and this comes through in their practice. The amount of strategies that we have been left with as a school are second to none. It’s an absolute privilege to walk down the corridor and see our little ones using their hands to do their rollercoaster breathing or their cup-cake breathing.”
She added: “This is what society needs right now and I can honestly say as a school, working alongside Action Mental Health, we are delivering that.”
The completed animations will be ready for viewing at the start of the new school term in September 2022, and will be used in delivery of future programmes to children and young people.
You can watch a short video of Elmgrove PS and Christ the Redeemer’s final workshop with Joel below: