This autumn term, we ran a new project for the first time.
Give and Take worked with young people from Year 5 and Year 8, aiming to equip them to resist pressure – particularly pressure to get involved with drugs. We focussed on having positive aims and not putting your worth in what other people think of you, with creative art students from Reading College sharing stories and providing great role models.
In their own words…
“The story that we saw made me realise that it does not matter what other people think about you – it only matters what you think of yourself. The students really inspired me and I really enjoyed them coming in.”
“My favourite part was laughing and chatting with the College students because we really got to know them and it was fun to do the activities with them like drama.”
“I realise that what other people think of you is not as important as what you think. This was a very useful lesson when my friends leave me.”
“After this experience I feel more confident to believe in myself. Also to express my feelings more often. It was very fun to make it into an artistic form as well. Getting the buttons and giving them to people I trusted helped me realise that the people that I trust, trust me too. That’s what made my day!!”
“I learnt more about feelings. I also enjoyed everything that I did. The Reading students were nice, kind and positive. I have learnt more about how to express my feelings and the play showed me how to help others with their feelings.”
From our perspective…
Overwhelmingly, the Year 5 children said the whole experience was fun, but they had also clearly got the messages about valuing your own opinion, being confident and making good friends. They had taken on board how it feels to be bullied, how to express your feelings and help others with their feelings, the importance of talking rather than fighting, and finding helpful and creative things to do when bored.
These aspects were chosen to help them become more confident, positive young people who are hopefully less likely to get caught up in destructive friendships or be pressurised into trying drugs.
A Year 5 parent said: “My son came home and said this was one of his best days at school, ever!”
A deputy head said…
“This day was one of the best – if not the best – drop-down day we’ve had organised by an external agency. I valued having the Reading College students around, as the Year 8s were more inclined to listen to them and their stories than us older people! It was immensely worthwhile.”
What we thought…
The Reading College art students were brilliant once again, and the Year 8s really engaged with their drama presentation and personal stories. One of the college students shared this perspective with us:
“I really enjoyed doing the performance and creating a workshop for the Year 8s. During my performance I got a chance to share my story, to share the issues and very real events of my past. I want to say thank you for the opportunity because I know there are many people out there with a story, a past, a reason behind everything that has made them, them – yet are unable to speak of their story for whatever reason. I think it is really important to help the generations to come as much as possible; they are the children of the future.”
A great collaboration
In all, Give and Take has been better than we had imagined! We were encouraged by all the new volunteers coming on board to help, and working with the Reading College students has been really great.
With new partnerships and new content, it was a learning curve for everyone involved. We made tweaks after every session, and the workshops got better and better each day.
The drama that the Reading College students presented was very effective – they got across an important message and were funny and approachable at the same time.
The school students’ feedback was so positive – they thoroughly enjoyed this creative project, appreciated having space to think, and were inspired by the college students’ stories. We also loved seeing the college students grow in their own confidence as they led the sessions and shared their experiences with these younger teenagers. They were great role models.
As Jane said at the start of the project: “We hope that by working with children from primary age, we can help prevent them becoming vulnerable to exploitation. Instead of becoming trapped in destructive addictions, we want to see all our young people living confident, positive lives.”