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Big Conversations from Small Talk with Young People

January 4th, 2017 by Suzanne Sweeney

Many aspects of today’s society can be bad news for the mental health of children and young people in the UK with three children in every classroom having a diagnosable mental health disorder. Worryingly still, half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by the age of 14 (Young Minds) We all recognize that as they grow and develop, children have to navigate a complex and ever changing world, facing challenges and pressures in numerous aspects of their lives.

In the news on a regular basis we hear that increasing numbers of children and young people are isolated, unhappy, and feeling lost.  These issues can lead young people to become disruptive, difficult, withdrawn and disturbed often not displaying the characteristics that would engender others to help and support them.  In the same way that this newsletter has highlighted that from small talk, bigger conversations can be brokered with adults, the same can be said for young people too.

Windmills resources and programmes have long supported young people to have conversations to discover what’s important to them, create an inspiring picture for the future and begin to realise that picture by taking practical actions.  The first of these tools within the portfolio was STAR which continues to enable young people to articulate to others what matters to them.

In an effort however to try and get to young people earlier and enable them to build resilience and understanding as they enter their high school years, Windmills has more recently been working with partners such as HEFCE, John Moore’s University and Lancashire LEP, in some of the most deprived areas in the region to help Y5 and Y6 children do the same with a new resource called “I Can”.

After using I Can these young people then engage in a social action community based project using the SMILE Challenge to enable them to Share their skills and talents for something Meaningful that has an Impact, leaves a Legacy and is for Everyone.

Results from this project showed 98% of young people improved their resilience, relationships and responsibility with 81% improving their self-awareness, 48% growing their support networks and 60% improving their self-confidence.

If you are working with young people to help them make sense of the world they are living in and their roles in it, and perhaps would like to know more about this type of work, please get in touch and we can reserve a place for you at our event.







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