Camden and Westminster take the Smart route to support child mental health.

2nd March 2017 By: Matthew Doyle

Camden and Westminster schoolchildren joined the Mayor of Camden, local teachers and heads last week (February 28) for a workout at the SmartGym to demonstrate how new technology can promote child mental health and wellbeing in schools.

SmartGym, developed by the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, uses technology to help children with their reasoning, their social skills, academic achievement and their wellbeing in order to help them achieve their potential and build their resilience.

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The demonstration - given by children from St Gabriel’s school, in Westminster, which piloted SmartGym, and Maria Fidelis school, in Camden - was part of a drive by the Mayor of Camden, Councillor Nadia Shah to encourage local schools to promote children’s health and wellbeing.

She said: “One in five children is at risk of being failed by the educational system and about half of these children are likely to have significant mental health and emotional problems. Despite these startling statistics, mental health is not currently prioritised in schools.

“As Mayor, I want to change this in Camden, and SmartGym is an exciting and innovative new initiative which will help children improve life skills such as trust, resilience, motivation, communication and awareness. We know that children who have these skills will go on to do well in life, and I want the best for all children in the borough.”

Beneath the flashing lights and computer-generated fun is some serious neuroscientific research which demonstrates that children’s cognition and life skills can be improved through performing psychological exercises, or ‘circuit training’. This training is used alongside techniques such as breathing exercises and group discussions and feedback to help promote mental health.

Brenda McHugh, from The Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, said: “We are delighted to be working with the Major of Camden. Her commitment to child mental health, and her determination to raise funds for SmartGym equipment in schools is good news for everyone in the borough. We hope it will be an example that others will follow as we work to promote child mental health throughout Britain.”

The Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families is the Mayor’s nominated charity of the year and she is raising funds to support its work.

On the 29th March 2017 the Mayor of Camden will be hosting a gala in aid of the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families at Gilgamesh in Camden, where SmartGym will once again be on display. For reservations for what is set to be a fantastic evening with a three-course dinner and live entertainment please email info@gilgameshbar.com or call 0207 428 4922.

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