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WATCH: Major school revamp sees 'stress-busting' space built

PUBLISHED: 08:37 07 February 2020 | UPDATED: 10:12 07 February 2020

Sylvio, Harvey, Nikola, Maisha and Jess. Westbourne Academy are celebrating the launch of their 'SWIM room' used to help children with mental health  Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Sylvio, Harvey, Nikola, Maisha and Jess. Westbourne Academy are celebrating the launch of their 'SWIM room' used to help children with mental health Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Charlotte Bond

Exam stress and family break-ups are among concerns secondary school pupils can share in a new 'mental health space' built inside an Ipswich academy.

Westbourne Academy is celebrating the launch of its 'SWIM room' used to help children with mental health  Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDWestbourne Academy is celebrating the launch of its 'SWIM room' used to help children with mental health Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Students at Westbourne Academy said they wanted access to a private, calm, and relaxing space - and so teachers granted their wish and created a newly designed room, set aside for discussing issues affecting students' mental wellbeing.

Funding for the project came from the Ipswich Opportunity Area scheme, which aims to ensure all young people in Ipswich can fulfil their potential, regardless of their background. Westbourne is one of 18 schools in Ipswich under the government-backed initiative.

This new project saw an old classroom completely transformed with furniture and decorations, which assistant principal Cathy Cook said aims to "represent a homely environment where pupils can feel comfortable".

Launching the new space, called a 'Support With Individuals' Mental Health' or 'SWIM' room, assistant principal Cathy Cook explained: "Divided into two areas, one blue and one green, the 'SWIM' room links with our mental health initiative after our research showed pupils wanted access to a private calm, comfortable and relaxing space."

Westbourne Academy pupils are celebrating the launch of their 'SWIM room' used to help children with mental health  Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDWestbourne Academy pupils are celebrating the launch of their 'SWIM room' used to help children with mental health Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

The blue room is for small group interventions and will host sessions from charities such as 4YP and the YMCA.

Meanwhile, the green room will be more for one-to-one meetings with students either by the school counsellor or outside organisations. Exam stress sessions will also be delivered here.

The project was born out of the academy's own mental health strategy, which has seen a team of four mental health first aiders created.

School counsellor Stephen Tooke, who works with 4YP, said: "It is extremely important to have private, comfortable space in which we can support pupils to deal with challenging situations in school.

Kay, Hayden and Lita - pupils at Westbourne Academy who attend some of the mental health sessions  Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDKay, Hayden and Lita - pupils at Westbourne Academy who attend some of the mental health sessions Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

"A year 10 student, who is part of a small group provision and also accesses the room as a drop in, said it is calming, and feels more like home. You can tell someone how you feel."

Another student, in year 8, has autism spectrum disorder. They described the room as being "spacious, and having colours which are relaxing and calming."

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