“Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive more youer than you”

Dr Seuss

In a recent study, the Children’s World survey of eight-year-olds revealed some worrying aspects for children living in England. It wasn’t all bad news but what stood out was the sense of unease children are feeling at school from the pressure to achieve, enjoy their childhood, make friendships and build relationships with their teachers.

As we develop Imagination Lab‘s experience and learning programme, one clear theme underpinning all of our activity is the child’s wellbeing. In everything we do, we aspire to ensure the child’s welfare is at the centre of the workshops and events we design and run.

At our recent All About Me Jamboree, we took this hypothesis a step further by curating an event focussed on eight to ten-year-old primary school children’s happiness and wellness. Working in partnership with a community event space in Southwark called Platform, we created an immersive environment that asked children to think all about ‘themselves’.

Coinciding with a week when thousands of parents withdrew their children from school SATs (tests), the jamboree focussed on learning through exploration. Our wellness resident ‘Wellbie’ welcomed our guests through calming playful exercises, steering the experience by introducing the activities on offer. Our jolly joke corner allowed children to invent jokes and record them for others to enjoy.

Working in partership with the London Brain Project, children were invited to code the sections of their brain to the activities that children enjoy doing, linking these activities to serotonin levels. Giant mandalas enabled children to come together to colour with calm. Me maps provided an opportunity for children to create lifestyle characters and begin a discussion on how they were feeling. These and other activities formed a free flowing space where children were given the choice of where they wished to spend time.

Feeding back their reflections on the event, teachers told us how surprised they were that they didn’t feel the need to manage their pupils as closely as they would do in the classroom and that the event enabled some of the participating teachers to reflect on their own practice. 90% of attending children took away an idea from the event about how to look after themselves or other children in the future.

We believe imagination is a facilitator of wellness and happiness and we will continue to explore the theme as we journey toward a more permanent home for the iOi.

Many thanks to Platform Southwark, a multi-discipline project space with a mission to encourage and promote groundbreaking art, music and performance, for hosting our Jamboree.

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