AS a mum-of-two and a preschool leader, Emma-Jayne from Omagh has become more aware of the emotional needs and mental health and well-being of children, starting firstly with her own daughter who struggles with anxiety at home.
Over the years Emma-Jayne, has worked with children who struggle with their emotions and worries and in the past year this has become worse with the Covid Pandemic. The Covid Pandemic has heightened anxieties and worries in many adults and unfortunately children.
The disruption to the school year, lockdowns and isolation has not helped in this, yes children have missed out academically but more importantly socially and emotionally.
Having completed an OCN course on an Introduction to Mindfulness and Reducing anxiety in children, during this year's lockdown, Emma-Jayne completed further training with Tara-Lea founder of ‘Pretzel Play’.
"Emma-Jayne said: "With seeing my daughter growing up and struggling with anxiety on and off I have carried out my own research on strategies to help her, I also completed an which I found beneficial not just at home but in work.’
‘’This training was completed virtually due to restrictions over two mornings. Tara’s passion for supporting children’s emotional health and well-being shone through and the training was both interactive and informative and I am so glad that I completed it. As well as practical strategies for supporting children, Tara gave us the advice, skills and encouragement needed for starting our own business if we wanted.’’
Emma-Jayne continued: ‘’It was during day 2 of this training that ‘Reach for the Stars’ came to me, and from there I feel it was meant to be. I left the training buzzing with ideas. We had homework to complete where we had to video ourselves carrying out a yoga and mindfulness session that we would do with children, although this was a little nerve racking, due to providing remote learning to my preschool children via videos during lockdown I wasn’t too bothered about doing this.
"Once I sent this to Tara she provided lovely positive feedback and encouragement and I got my certificate. I set up my social media page on Facebook and Instagram and started my journey set up. I started off with shared personal videos and advice as a parent of a child who struggles with anxiety, and I have shared resources and ideas from other organisations as well positive quotes and affirmations."
Emma-Jayne found that due to lockdown it was impossible to launch officially as she couldn’t hold any face-to-face sessions. She did ‘test the water’ to get some feedback from friends/family by providing some online video sessions for children to participate in. There wasn’t much uptake on these, but Emma-Jayne didn’t let this put her down, she was still able to use many of the strategies and skills she learnt with the Preschool children she worked with and seen the benefits of this.
‘’In June I was finally able to run some face-to-face Saturday sessions. I hired a venue, advertised via my social media pages and got my first bookings. It was great, I really enjoyed each week and I learnt and adapted my sessions weekly depending on the children I had in the groups and I got some lovely feedback. In July I ran my first Summer Club, 2-hour sessions to include games to develop FUNdamental Movement skills, yoga, mindfulness and relaxation. I also got my first booking and ran taster sessions at a local summer scheme and these also went well. The working with the children part comes more naturally to me but I wasn’t totally sure about the business side, Tara gave great advice and I also signed up and completed the local ‘Go For It programme over the summer as well!’’
This is the start of Emma-Jayne’s journey with ‘Reach for the Stars’ hoping to help children and families. Keep an eye on her Facebook and Instagram pages @Reachforthestarsej or email reachforthestarsej@Gmail.com for further information. She is holding more Saturday sessions in Sept/Oct and is available for bookings for after-schools/youth clubs, summer schemes. Sessions include a warmup, movement to music, yoga, mindfulness, arts and crafts and relaxation.