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Stix Mindfulness programme trialled at Laddingford St Mary's C of E Primary School near Maidstone


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A primary school has become the first in the country to trial a new tool aimed at improving pupils' mental health and wellbeing.

Laddingford St Mary's C of E Primary School in Laddingford near Yalding has adopted the Stix Mindfulness programme which is aimed at reducing stress.

We spoke to the inventor and pupils and staff from the school about the tool

Invented by 25-year-old whiz kid, Liam Murphy, the screen-less hand-held devices enable children to practice mindfulness and earn rewards.

Mindfulness is described as an awareness of a person's thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.

To coincide with this year's annual Mental Health Awareness Week, 80 pupils from the school used the unique device through its partnership with charity, Youth Resilience UK, who have worked in the school for a number of years.

The ground-breaking kit was introduced as a post lockdown measure to re-integrate pupils back into social settings while using technology to keep them engaged.

With two interactive remotes, one held in each hand, the device talks and guides the child through mindful activities in balance, focus and breathing.

Laddingford St Mary's C of E primary
Laddingford St Mary's C of E primary
Stix Mindfulness is a new tool to helping improve mindfulness - awareness of a person's thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment
Stix Mindfulness is a new tool to helping improve mindfulness - awareness of a person's thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment

The 'Stix' monitor their movements and gives visual, haptic (touch) and auditory feedback to keep them focused and engaged.

Just some of the guided games include, Stix balance, balloon breathing and body-scanning, which give rewards that can be used to go 'shopping' in the application.

The move has been a hit with Year 5 and 6 students who started the trial in February which will finish at the end of summer term.

Year 6 pupil Christopher said: "I think they've been really helpful for everyone to calm down, because everyone has been a lot less tense.

"Home learning was something I didn't like, I think it's better to be with other people, in a group than on your own with no one else to talk to."

Liam Murphy is inventor of the Stix Mindfulness tool
Liam Murphy is inventor of the Stix Mindfulness tool

Recent figures show one in six children are diagnosed with a mental health condition and one in four children aged six to 10 years old have problems with sleep.

This was an issue product designer Liam wanted to tackle.

He said: "I studied product design at Brighton University back in 2019, when I graduated.

"My final year project was focusing on alternatives to medication for kids, and in general for mental health, I spent a year researching into what we can do for kids to explore different ways to treat them.

"It's something that kids can pick up on a day to day basis and learn how to breathe.

"So they can take different mechanisms and calming mechanisms into their daily life and help with their mental health.

Christopher, Laddingford St Mary's primary school
Christopher, Laddingford St Mary's primary school

In 2020, Liam teamed up with his father, John, and turned the innovation into a business.

The inventor, also the recent winner of the UK’s Young Innovator Award, further described how he was driven by his brother's battle with medication due to his ADHD whilst in the education system.

He continued: "My brother has ADHD. And he's only a year below me in school, so he's not actually a product user now, but his story of taking medication, when he was younger, for his ADHD inspired me to look into this sort of area."

Kelly Walker, managing director at Youth Resilience UK, described how her passion came from her daughter's experience.

She said: "I've got a daughter with autism, she didn't have a particularly good journey through education.

Kelly Walker, managing director Youth Resilience UK
Kelly Walker, managing director Youth Resilience UK

"I got quite frustrated about a lot of the barriers that get put into the way of some young people, so it was through that, that I saw an opportunity to be able to support schools."

She continued: "We haven't got anything like sticks. It bridges that gap between where the young people really want electronic inputs of screen time and being able to play games but for us being able to have a real kind of purposeful interaction with them around our work.

"For this end of primary, they missed a really significant chunk of time when they would have been developing some of those social skills in terms of being around other people and preparing for that step up to secondary.

Gemma Hitch, head teacher at Laddingford St Mary's primary school
Gemma Hitch, head teacher at Laddingford St Mary's primary school

"So they have lost that, but we've worked very, very hard and Laddingford have worked very hard, as lots of other schools have, to try to bridge that gap and give them the skills they're going to need to step up to secondary in September."

Gemma Hitch, 36, head teacher at the school said: "It's about having tools in our tool-kit.

"We give children tools to go out into the world, whether that's maths, whether it's English, what we're really doing is giving them a whole range of things they can take off into their life with them.

"I think the thing that's great about sticks is it's not awkward for the children, it's a game, it's fun."

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