I thought I would write and keep you all updated on the progress of The Wellbeing Alphabet™. It has been an exciting few weeks. The consultation is progressing and we are currently liaising with schools in the North East of England, North Yorkshire, London and overseas. As with any education programme, it is essential to evaluate the impact of interventions on different age groups, abilities, needs and education systems. The Wellbeing Alphabet™ will be piloted with Local Authority maintained schools, Academies, Free Schools and Independent schools. We are also liaising with health services and parents. The programme has received encouraging and valuable feedback from Head Teachers, Parents, Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators, Behaviour Support, Educational Psychology, Mental Health commissioning and of course children!

Last year I had the pleasure of meeting Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive of Public Health England. I asked Duncan how he thought we could teach happiness to children when Public Health as a profession is so focused on monitoring outcomes. Duncan’s response was “just keep talking to your child”, so I did! Having counselled my own child through parental separation and a family bereavement, I have seen first-hand the profound positive impact of The Wellbeing Alphabet™.

Last week we confirmed a pilot with an Independent School which will be completed in spring 2016. I am absolutely honoured to tell you that I am also in discussion with a fantastic Behaviour Support / Play Therapist and an Early Years Specialist on delivering the programme to parents and foster carers. This is a really special part of the programme as the aim is to up-skill a group of mums facing difficult circumstances, and to equip them with the confidence and self-esteem to deliver The Wellbeing Alphabet™ to their own children. I also had the pleasure recently of spending time with a few of the children who will potentially be involved in the parent-child pilot.

Children have such a huge place in my heart and they need to be protected, encouraged and nurtured. When children are referred to as having ‘additional behavioural, social and emotional needs’ I feel even more compelled to understand how I can support them. My dream is for The Wellbeing Alphabet™ to help children develop emotional literacy and positive wellbeing, whilst having fun at the same time! In a period when a number of vital publically funded services are being withdrawn, it is essential that support is still available for the children and parents that need it most. Over the next few weeks my six-year-old son and I will be selecting more arts and crafts materials for the programme, and no doubt having a lot of laughs along the way. Fun creative therapy is really the best approach for children and I guess that is why people say that ‘laughter is the best medicine!’.

Finally, I would like to say that children of all backgrounds, and all socio-economic status have a need for positive emotional wellbeing, including the vocabulary to express feelings and behaviour. Teaching emotional wellbeing to children from a young age is something that we should all aspire to. Whether you consider the impact of early years on long term life outcomes[i] or the impact of emotional health on educational attainment[ii], we must prioritize these key areas of childhood development.

I will leave you with this quote:

‘Without listening to children and understanding children’s own views about their quality of life – how can we ever expect to improve the lives of children and young people?’ [iii]:

 Nathalie. L. Carter, Founder of The Wellbeing Alphabet

If you would like more information or are able to support or sponsor the development of The Wellbeing Alphabet in any way, please email me directly on Nathalie@lalinguistica.com.

[i] e.g. see Fair Society Healthy Lives, Marmot,  2008 (http://www.instituteofhealthequity.org/projects/fair-society-healthy-lives-the-marmot-review)

[ii] Not yet good enough: personal, social, health and economic education in schools, OFSTED, 2012 (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/not-yet-good-enough-personal-social-health-and-economic-education)

[iii] The Good Childhood Report 2015, The Children’s Society, 2015 (http://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/what-we-do/resources-and-publications/the-good-childhood-report-2015)