On 19th February, 8 guests walked into Stephenson Academy, which is a special school for students who have social, emotional and mental health needs. Here, almost all students have low self-esteem and many present challenging behaviours.
At the start of the session, which was held in the sports hall, one dribbled a basketball in and out of the chairs the guests were sitting in, then swung from the basketball hoop for a while. Eventually all students were seated and individually, without the distraction of peer pressure, they began to ask interested questions.
In post-session evaluation, six out of six guests said they had enjoyed the session and would be happy to do it again. Four out of six strongly agreed they would like to do it again.
“These youngster have so much to give, if we can just reach them and ignite the spark that they have hidden away,” said one guest.
“Although these kids may have had difficulties, many seemed to know exactly what they wanted to do with their lives,” said another.
“It was a difficult start with the children acting out behaviourally,” said another guest, a Mental Health Nurse with wide experience in looking after difficult to engage children in Forensic mental health settings. “These students actually showed a degree of insight into themselves but more importantly all bar one had very specific ‘dream’ jobs they wanted to achieve. Many asked very pertinent questions and I found most likeable and engaging. Events like this, with this difficult group, would benefit from being held more frequently so they get used to the idea of strangers entering their world – it may make for a better outcome.”