Education news

Pupils design colourful book to help fight stress

Michael McGuinness (18) holding up his illustration for the coping companion picture book

PUPILS at a special school have designed a colourful new book to help them recognise and deal with stress.

Eight people between the ages of 14-18 from Glenveagh Special School have put together the picture book, which is due to be launched at the Young at Art Festival.

The pupils worked on the project with Fighting Words Belfast, based in the Skainos Centre in east Belfast.

Glenveagh School provides education for eight to 19, with severe learning difficulties. Enrolment has remained steady and the pupils who attend have increasing complex medical, mental health and learning needs. There are sensory classrooms with pupils who require high levels of support to meet their additional medical and social and emotional needs.

Pupils took part in six Skainos-based workshops, to explore the causes of stress in young adults with special needs, and discuss how it manifests itself in the physical body.

Each week they explored one feeling that could trigger stress in their body, culminating in six different discussions around these emotions, such as worry, fear, tiredness and anger.

Using a system nicknamed `body check Bob', they explored how to identify when they were experiencing stress - when their hands get sweaty or throats get dry, or legs become wobbly.

Pupils then took images from the Communicate in Print educational app, and interpreted them using Lego like blocks. These blocks were used to help them make their own versions of these symbols, to be used as illustrations for the book.

The aim of this book is to function as a de-escalation aid. Pupils will carry it with them and whenever they recognise stress, then they can read the signs in the book, to remind them of how to use simple breathing exercises.

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