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Inside out

Local charity Inside Out has been celebrating 10 years of improving the wellbeing of children

When a group of children declared a day spent at an equestrian centre to be the ‘best ever’, Inside Out knew they were on to something.

Over the last decade the charity has been responding to the growing children’s mental health crisis by helping schools tackle challenges posed by mental health problems, exam stress and anxiety.

Launched in November 2013 with a Magical Day Out of mindfulness, nature and horses based around the 5 Keys to Happiness for just 10 children from Thameside Primary School, Caversham, it has since supported more than 5,000 children across 20 schools in Reading and Oxfordshire.

Children gain a ‘toolkit’ of fun and practical life skills and strategies they can use in everyday life to reduce stress, find focus, increase confidence and resilience to feel better, learn better and flourish. The impact of their work has been significant, with schools seeing an improvement in children’s mental wellbeing, a development in essential social and emotional skills, and increased engagement.

The initial spark for Inside Out came when Founder and CEO, Stephanie Weissman, became convinced, from personal experience, of a well-proven concept – happiness fuels success, not the other way around. The charity’s underlying belief that ‘happy children learn better’ has never changed. Their 5 Keys to Happiness evidence-based framework has made it easy for busy teachers to promote positive mental wellbeing and has been the foundation for all their work.

When the pandemic hit, free weekly Wellbeing Guides full of simple, fun wellbeing boosts were created and used at home and in school to support children, some of whom were experiencing trauma.

The overwhelmingly positive response to these Guides galvanised the charity to accelerate the completion of a free, digitised ‘Activity Library’ and ‘Wellbeing Programme’. Schools now use these to work towards the charity’s coveted Inside Out Award, which helps them build a whole-school culture to wellbeing. 

Inside Out marked their 10-year anniversary with a new ‘Wellbeing Ambassadors’ pilot, putting children at the centre of leading peer-to-peer support and promoting conversations about mental health and positive wellbeing.

Stephanie added: “We are extremely proud to reach this milestone. The best predictor of an adult’s life satisfaction is their emotional health as a child. We look to the future with an unwavering commitment to inspire children to develop ways to look after their mental wellbeing, so they have the best chance to reach their full potential.”

Find out more at theinsideout.org.yk