Today marks the beginning of #ChildrensMentalHealth week, and so The Duchess of Cambridge made two visits to schools to see how young students are being supported with their mental health. Catherine spent time at Lavender Primary School, and Alperton Community School.
The Duchess visited Lavender Primary School as patron of Place2Be, a charity that provides emotional and therapeutic services in primary and secondary schools, hoping to build children’s resilience through talking, creative work and play. Kate has been a patron of the organisation for a number of years, forming the part of the mental health work the Royal does.
Kate sat in on one session was with Year 6 pupils, who worked on a food diary, looking at the links between diet and mood. This used a ‘mood metre’, to identify how they are feeling and energy levels; this year’s campaign has a theme of ‘Healthy: Inside and Out’, focusing on the connection between physical and mental health.
She told them them that Princess Charlotte was already enjoying eating olives, and that her daughter helped with cooking the family’s favourite ‘cheesy pasta’.
Another part of the visit was a show and tell, an item that made its owner happy. Catherine brought her own item in for the task: “I’ve got something,” she told pupils. “It’s not very big. Do you want to see it?
Taking a photo out of her clutch bag, she said: “This is a photograph of my family. These are my children and this is my husband. And my family makes me feel happy. And we like playing outside together and spending lots of time together as a family.”
Kate used the official photo released for the Cambridges’ Christmas card to show the pupils. It features the family sitting on a tree branch in the garden.
Some parents were also present for the royal visit, and they told the Duchess about the parenting challenges they face, something Catherine was likely familiar with, having three young children of her own! Another part of the conversation centred around keeping their children healthy, which included screen time as well as exercise.
The Duchess of Cambridge even met the school’s therapy dog, Herbie, who greeted her with a kiss in the playground. The dog lives with the Headteacher and goes into school four days a week. Therapy animals are becoming increasingly popular, as their stress relieving nature is being utilised to benefit humans.
Later in the day, the Duchess visited Alperton Community School. Here, the future Queen met Andria Zafirakou, who is the UK’s first winner of the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize. The award is presented each year to an exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution.
A roundtable discussion about teacher wellbeing was held during the visit, which Kate attended.
In the textiles classroom, The Duchess of Cambridge heard how the school uses art to enhance children’s confidence, creativity and wellbeing. A-Level art student Shaquille, 16, showed the royal visitor some of his work.
Kate said: “This is what you can do if you don’t use on social media. It’s a fantastic advert. Honestly, it’s really, really incredible.It’s so amazing to hear your passion for it. You’ve got a real talent, both of you, please keep it up.”
The Duchess also spoke about her own love of art.“I loved art when I was at school, and I did art A Level as well.
“I still look back on that time and still love the skills I learnt then, so I hope you’ll feel the same. It will be a skill you’ll have for life.”
Speaking of her arts and crafts attempts with her children, the Duchess commented: “It’s something that I’m loving doing with the children. The papier-mâché! I forgot how messy it was. It’s so messy but it’s great.
“George found a piece of charcoal in the fireplace and said ‘Mummy I’m going to draw a picture’. That’s what’s so nice, you can do it from all around you.”
Speaking of the benefits of the creative tasks, Catherine added: “It expresses your creativity and can help your confidence.”
Kate studied Art History at university, which is where she met Prince William.