Pupils from a local primary school were recognised at a charity awards ceremony recently for taking part in a ground-breaking programme.
Children from St James’s Primary School were awarded certificates at the Barnardo’s NI event, which was held at Belfast City Hall.
The King’s Walk school was one of six schools from Newtownabbey that took part in the Paths Plus (promoting alternative thinking strategies) programme.
The other local schools were Ashgrove Primary School, Ballyhenry Primary School, Hazelwood Integrated Primary School, King’s Park Primary School and Mossley Primary School.
The pupils from St James’s received certificates from the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Brian Kingston.
The programme, which was developed in the US, is designed to help children develop problem-solving skills, how to handle conflict positively and make responsible decisions.
Lynda Wilson, Director Barnardo’s NI said: “We know how important it is to ensure the mental well-being of our children throughout their childhood and the work of this project demonstrates the benefits of this approach for the whole school.”
Mairead Ewart, who leads the Paths Plus programme, explained how it is providing children with skills they will be able to use for life.
She said: “Paths helps children recognise how they are feeling and gives them skills to manage that. It also helps them recognise how others might be feeling and to feel empathy and show support. An additional part of the programme involves friendship groups which supports children to understand how to make positive relationships. Overall it helps children calm down and engage with learning by thinking and problem solving.”
The local schools were just some of 69 primaries and 11,500 children from across NI that have benefitted from the Paths Plus programme.
For more information visit www.pathseducation.co.uk or www.barnados.org.uk