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It’s what’s inside that counts

Good things come in small packages, as the saying goes.

And they don’t get much smaller than this little box:

It’s one of the tools used by our #TeamHive youth workers on their travels across Wirral delivering our specialist wellbeing programme in schools.

Public Health England’s 2022 report on building resilience in schools found that resilience impacts on young people’s life chances in a range of ways – from their mental and physical health, to their qualifications and skills, working lives and social relationships. When life throws challenges and sour situations our way, it’s our ability to bounce back which gets us through. That’s why our Bee Amazing: Lemonade Project – currently funded by The National Lottery Community Fund– works with young people both here at The Hive and out in schools to build those resilience skills.

They cover everything from healthy eating to recognising emotions and managing them in a positive way; identifying what makes a good friend and how we would behave if someone isn’t so kind; and how to boost our self-esteem. The programme makes it fun for young people of all ages to have challenging discussions and to develop their resilience, whatever their circumstances. So far this year alone we’ve worked with Egremont Primary School, Portland Primary School, Weatherhead High, Prenton High, Stanton Road Primary, Poulton Lancelyn Primary, Hilbre High and Coop Academy Bebington, Irby Primary, Black Horse Hill Primary, Greasby Juniors and St George’s Primary in Wallasey. To date, the programme’s worked with hundreds of young people at both primary and secondary school, and by the time our funding ends this June, the programme will have helped more than 350 young people on the Wirral.

But we’ve got a waiting list of schools wanting our team to run Lemonade with their pupils. This is why:

"Two ladies from The Hive came to my sons school today and took some kids out of class to make things. My son was one of those kids and he made a sensory bottle. He said the lady from the hive was so helpful in helping him make it! He can’t remember her name but he said she had a purple jumper on and she wore glasses. He has autism and honestly struggles all the time, but he couldn’t stop talking about how much he enjoyed this activity and how great she was. Just want to say a massive thank you because he was really happy."

The team uses all sorts of tactics: calm jars, stress balls and dream catchers; group discussions; making fruit smoothies; and playing games like ‘toxic or true?’

I got the chance to see Lemonade in action on a rainy February afternoon at Egremont Primary, joining around six young people in their chill-out room at the top of the school building. They’d all been encouraged to come to the sessions by their teachers in school. They’d had a few sessions with us already, and in that week Cam and Ella from our youth work team had them playing a dice game which challenged them to come up with positive things about themselves:

‘Something I’m really good at’. ‘Something I’m proud that I accomplished.’ ‘Something I like about my personality.’ It’s harder than it sounds.

Their discomfort at saying and listening to positive things about themselves was palpable. Have you ever done the exercise with colleagues where you name qualities and skills you value about them at work, and things you’d like to see them develop even more? Excruciating. But a fantastic way to build relationships and see yourself as others do. It struck me that the young people were doing exactly the same thing.

And then came the little box.

Each young person had to write down on little pieces of paper some of the positive things they’d thought of about themselves. Completely confidential, not for anyone else to see. The scraps of paper went inside, then they spent time decorating the outside of the box. “What’s this for?” one of them asked.

“For you,” was Ella’s answer. “You can keep this for the future and when you’re having a tough time and perhaps aren’t feeling so good about yourself, you can open the box to remind yourself of just a few of the brilliant things about you.”

It got very quiet in the room while they coloured and stuck and compared designs. When the session ended, two boys who’d been less engaged with the sessions in previous weeks didn’t want to leave, they were so engrossed.

And while those little boxes went home in schoolbags and might have been put up on a shelf or under the bed, it’s a powerful thing to know that whenever those young people next come across them and open them up, what’s inside will help them remember their unique superpowers, as told by them. There’s no way those boxes won’t give them a smile.

Good things really do come in small packages.

Claire Rick is The Hive’s Head of Communications

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