An innovative project run by a Wigan mum bringing messages about positive mental health to classrooms is going from strength to strength.
Smile: The Happiness Project, is expanding as founder Gemma Heaton has been joined doing the workshops by Hindley Green parent Kate Musgrave.
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Kate used Gemma’s Reset programme for adults while going through the nightmare ordeal of her young son Archie battling meningitis.
Now she has joined Gemma, from Hindley, in teaching primary and secondary school pupils about the importance of talking about mental health, of maintaining an upbeat outlook and learning to live with the ups and downs of life.
Kate said: “The Reset course really helped me with everything going on with Archie.
“Every time there was a problem I changed my mindset into a positive one rather than thinking negatively or dwelling on things.
“As Archie was getting better Gemma wanted to bring out a programme for children and asked me if I would help her. The workshops are about building self-confidence and self-esteem.
“I thought that if I helped Archie I could help other children too. I’m made up to be helping deliver the workshops, I love it.”
Gemma says Smile is currently taking off, with the diary for September crammed full of bookings for her and Kate to work with children ranging from nursery toddlers to sixth formers.
Gemma initially came up with Reset after suffering anxiety herself and then found parents asking if they could buy her book on mental health for their children.
Instead she preferred to work on a new project which would all be at the right level for youngsters and Smile was born.
She says schools in the borough are understanding more about mental health and wellbeing and is helping young people in Wigan cope with some of the issues they face growing up.
She said: “It has been unbelievable getting Smile into schools and receiving feedback from teachers and parents who have seen the change in kids.
“We want them to be the best and happiest self they can be.
“It’s so nice to hear the children saying they have felt the same things and supporting each other, rather than not talking about it.
“We work one-to-one with people who have more complex emotional needs but we do whole class work because this is something everybody can benefit from. Every child deserves the chance to be happy.
“The long-term goal for Smile is for children to learn that together we can make the world smile and every person can make a difference.”
Gemma is also delighted with the newest member of her Smile team.
She said: “Kate did the Reset course every single day, even when she was facing every parent’s worst nightmare.
“She openly says it got her through and she’s my big inspiration. If she can do that then we can all do it.
“She’s the perfect person to have on board.”
To find out more about Smile or to request the project visits a school, email email@example.com or search for SMILE on Facebook.