Teddy helps students deal with anxiety
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.
Canning Vale PS chaplain Tina Lowther and Mr Sniffles.