As many of you may already know, the money that is raised by The James Brindley Foundation, funds the delivery of ‘The James Brindley Full Circle Programme’. The Programme is an educational tool for children, young people and their families, and an assessment tool for professionals. This ‘twin approach’, means that The Foundation can train other professionals, to deliver the Programme and thereby expand its help, across the region and in time, across the whole of the UK. The aim is to prevent children from making bad decisions, that can have long term negative consequences for their future. The Programme educates those in need, by giving them the self-confidence and skills to make positive choices and thereby avoid falling into antisocial behaviours and a criminal lifestyle. The best way of engaging with young people, is in a safe environment, where they feel comfortable to discuss their own experiences and can be given the necessary skills, to question their values and beliefs and change their behaviours.
Following the official launch at the Mayor’s Parlour, we were invited to deliver a series of one-hour sessions, to a group of year 7’s, in a large senior school in Birmingham. The goals of the sessions were to increase their understanding of the short and long term effects of the choices they make and to increase their awareness of negative and positive peer pressure.
The pupils took part in activities that allowed them to express their own identity and values and to explore effective decision making, particularly in situations where they may be pressured into carrying a weapon. They were encouraged to examine the myths around carrying a knife and challenge the mind-sets of individuals that may think it is okay to carry a knife for ‘protection’ or ‘to look cool’. It is crucial to ensure pupils understand that bringing a weapon into a situation, will make it much more dangerous, both for themselves, as well as others and that there are ways these situations can be managed, if they arise, by using resistance techniques, designed to help the individual say NO to carrying a weapon.
Our James’ story, was also brought into the discussion, and Mum and Dad were introduced to the students. There was an immediate change in their attitudes, and everything that they had discussed in that session, became very relevant and real to them. There was a huge sense of empathy towards the family, and James became a real person that they could identify with – rather than just another statistic and a news headline.
Finally, the students were made aware of who they can talk to, and where they can safely and anonymously report any worries that they may have, particularly if they are feeling vulnerable or at risk. Speaking out and reporting any concerns, may just save someone’s life. We are now measuring the success of these sessions through their feedback and teacher appraisals. We are discussing with the school, how we can continue to develop student self-confidence and social skills, using other key elements of The James Brindley Full Circle Programme.
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