Teddy helps stu­dents deal with anx­i­ety

Comment News (Armadale) - - Front Page - Jaime Shurmer

CHAPLAIN Tina Lowther uses a teddy bear known as Mr Snif­fles to help Can­ning Vale Pri­mary School stu­dents deal with stress and anx­i­ety.

Mrs Lowther’s off-sider is in­volved in a va­ri­ety of ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing a ‘com­mu­nity cir­cle’ to en­cour­age stu­dents in three classes at the school to re­flect and share their thoughts in a safe way.

The Kelm­scott resident was for­merly a teacher at Ar­madale Pri­mary School, where she also used a bear in class.

“It’s all the heart stuff I love, so I stud­ied to be a coun­sel­lor and qual­i­fied to be a chaplain,” she said.

Can­ning Vale Pri­mary School is fo­cus­ing on pro­tec­tive be­hav­iours and two other bears have been added at the school so there is ac­cess ev­ery­where for chil­dren to write down their con­cerns and get a writ­ten re­sponse.

Mr Snif­fles’ brother, Mr Snuf­fles, sits in on Year 2 classes and their cousin Char­lie is now in the li­brary.

Mrs Lowther said she had re­ceived hun­dreds of let­ters via Mr Snif­fles in the past twoand-a-half years and had done more than 1000 one-on-one ses­sions, re­fer­ring on to other ser­vices where needed.

The school also has a psy­chol­o­gist but Mrs Lowther said her role as chaplain was with the bro­ken-hearted those of­ten griev­ing fam­ily break-ups or anx­i­ety and life wor­ries.

Teach­ers might flag a child, or par­ents may con­tact Mrs Lowther di­rectly and she spends plenty of time in class, with her room open dur­ing lunch breaks.

“Notes range from gen­eral, friendly and re­la­tional to a need for some­one to talk to or a need for help,” Mrs Lowther said.

Mr Snif­fles also sits be­tween Mrs Lowther and the child in one-to-one pas­toral con­ver­sa­tions.

“He pro­vides se­cu­rity, a re­as­sur­ing bar­rier be­tween my­self and them, and a com­fort­ing tool dur­ing con­ver­sa­tional ex­plo­ration,” Mrs Lowther said.

Pic­ture: Will Rus­sell d483586

Can­ning Vale PS chaplain Tina Lowther and Mr Snif­fles.

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