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Self-regulation resources and training to support children’s mental health

Featured Coach – Roger Banks

My name is Roger and I have been a Relax Kids coach since September 2020 to say that it has been an interesting experience would be a slight understatement! 

I did my training with Aislinn in Manchester on February 1st 2020 when the world was a completely different place. I remember vividly, wandering from my hotel room down High Street past a cat café through a bustling city centre to grab a chicken doner and chips from the Turkish Grill (you can take the boy out of Newcastle and all that). Nobody that night had any idea what was coming furthermore the coaches doing the training the following day could not have predicted how important our work was going to become in the era of COVID.

My journey to Relax Kids was after 15-years in primary education and was sparked by returning to the UK from a stint working at the British School of Amsterdam. For almost three years I had lived in a school bubble where children had time and space to express themselves. The culture of the country and the school meant that wellness was further up the agenda and children had more freedom and time to explore and express themselves. This was in stark contrast to the pace at which modern UK primary schools work where the demand on all staff and pupils is huge. 

However, starting my own business in the midst of a global pandemic did not seem like the wisest thing to do and I almost committed to another year of teaching but after receiving encouragement from my family and my school I went for it. This isn’t normal behaviour on my part, I’m very risk averse by nature. I saw the academic year out and started delivering Relax Kids sessions in September 2020 as planned and I have not looked back.

When schools were fully open my in-person sessions had to be COVID-secure which involved a lot of extra preparation in terms of hygiene and risk assessments which took time and money initially but once I was set up the in-person sessions went really well and the feedback was positive. This was at the beginning of what is now a year of measures and the need for what we do is even greater. 

Now we are in a place where many children have not had consistent school for months; parents are balancing work and home-schooling; meeting friends is not possible and there seems to be only a chink of light at the end of the tunnel. Tensions are high. What has kept me going is my online sessions and the feedback from children and parents. From January, I have been building my online presence and gaining confidence in delivering sessions through Zoom, Teams and Google Meet. The feedback about children looking forward to the next session, wanting a session again the next day and parents telling me that it was the first time in months that their child had been relaxed has really validated the choice I made back in February 2020.

I often read the Coaches Chat on Facebook and there are so many coaches out there who are in that place I found myself a couple of months ago. Scared to take the plunge. There is so much support out there for you from fellow coaches who will support you in the most amazing ways to give you the confidence or just a gentle push to go for it.

The impact you can make is priceless and the only cost is a little faith in yourself. Your role as a coach is going to become even more important in the post-COVID landscape; now is the time to make those connections with local schools and community groups. 

Go for it!