Millbrook Primary pupils get creative for Transforming Lives for Good programme

FLYING paper planes, making puppets, cakes in the shape of Pudsey Bear and a pinata like a character from Angry Birds may seem like the school day from Heaven.

But there is a more serious side to work being done by children at Millbrook Primary School as part of the Transforming Lives for Good programme.

Every week, seven volunteers from the nearby Revive Church head into the Bank Road school to work one-on-one with children.

The end products may look like fun and the hour-long sessions are completely different from school work.

However, behind the smiles is the message of making children more socially confident, more socially aware and develop their emotional intelligence.

Judith Parr is one of the coaches on the scheme that has already proved a hit since being brought in at the start of the school year.

She said: “We have seven coaches and we work under an organisation called TLG who have put a programme together that supports children in school who need emotional support and things like confidence building.

“The coaches have one child each and we come in one day a week for an hour and it can be things like, ‘How are you going today? Has anything happened?’

“We’ve been coming in since September and it can be something as routine as doing something creative, using things that can develop emotional intelligence.”

Another volunteer Lou Moore added: “It’s early days yet but the kids are very happy to see us.”

And Margaret McGhee revealed the programme has already had an effect.

She said: “I’ve noticed the girl I work with seems a lot more relaxed.

“When kids are more relaxed generally, that means they’re more likely to open up about things and the teachers are starting to notice an impact in attitude and behaviour.”

Transforming Lives for Good was first developed in the environment of a Pupil Referral Unit with children who had been expelled from secondary schools in mainstream education.

However, it was realised it has more effect on children of primary school age as messages sink into young minds quicker and the long-term effects can be greater.

Revive Church, on Huddersfield Road, became involved because Pastor Andy Chadwick is one of the governors at the school.

And he revealed the impact just making a paper plane can have.

He said: “Children don’t make paper planes any more but there’s actually about 12 different ones that can be made and different ones fly in different ways.

“The child I’m working with takes his home and shows his dad.”

Transforming Lives for Good will operate for the whole school year, with sessions taking place in the school’s hall.

Some of the children – including eight-year-olds Callum Robin-Herman and Joshua Nicholson and 10-year-olds Max Payton, Dillon Roach and Sienna Shaw – say they love working with the group, which gives its time for free.

Joshua, who has been making planes, said: “Sometimes the planes go straight on but sometimes they go straight down. It’s really good what I do with them and I love working with them.”

Headteacher Elizabeth Turner admitted the benefits can already be seen.

She said: “They work with our most vulnerable children using coaching to help support their emotional health. 

“We feel really lucky to receive this support for free. 

“There’s no religious element and the parents and children are really positive about the work so far.”

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