Warning – Giraffe at large in Somerset schools!

Grant funding supports wellbeing sessions for local schools

Harold the Giraffe is busy delivering important advice on wellbeing to thousands of primary school children in Somerset.

Harold is one of the main characters used to deliver Life Education Wessex’s ‘skills-for-life’ project into primary schools in Somerset, where trained educators deliver fun and interactive healthy lifestyle messages to children from nursery to year 6 (ages 3 to 11).

Historically, sessions have been delivered using a mobile classroom that was towed to a school and parked in the playground. These units were well used and constantly refurbished, but had a finite life expectancy and a high replacement cost. Also, they were not always suitable for smaller schools, where access to school playgrounds is limited.

A grant of £10,000 from National Grid has enabled Life Education Wessex to purchase LifeSpace; an innovative inflatable classroom and portable teaching kit, used to deliver sessions inside the school hall. It's packaged in four bags and therefore easily transported by the educator in a car.

“The LifeSpace gives us flexibility and the children have loved it!” said Lorraine Hewitt, Fundraising Manager for Life Education Wessex. “As well as visiting schools where we can, during lockdown we have put out a weekly ‘Harold’s Diary’ and have supported children, parents and schools with resources to add to home learning packs. Isolation and lack of routine means that our work supporting vulnerable children has never been more important.”

It felt like we were somewhere else. Don’t change anything because it was amazing!

It’s certainly been valued by the children, with one year 5 pupil saying: “The Life Space landed in our school hall. The giant tent has Harold inside. Didn’t feel like the school hall. It felt like we were somewhere else. Don’t change anything because it was amazing!”

“We’re keen to work with communities affected by our work on the Hinkley Connection Project,” said James Good, Project Director at National Grid’s Hinkley Connection Project. “We felt that an inflatable LifeSpace was a particularly important resource for children from rural communities, where schools might not have been able to accommodate the larger buses operated by Life Education Wessex at the time.

“Harold and his friends give children a fun-filled experience to help them develop the knowledge, skills and confidence to make their own positive choices about their physical and emotional health.”

We began construction work in Somerset for the Hinkley Connection Project in 2019 and will be starting to erect new T-pylons later this year.