The Alex Panton Foundation celebrates the launch of their second cycle for the Emotional Literacy Programme (ELP) and their first anniversary of working with the UK Partnership for Children. The ELP is one of the first mental health programmes to be implemented into in the Cayman Islands’ education system and school curricula.
The programme was established in October 2019 with the aim of developing the emotional intelligence and communication skills of children aged 5–9. The programme’s divisions, “Zippy’s Friends” (ages 5-7), “Apple’s Friends” (ages 7+), and the adapted programme “SEND” for children with special needs and disabilities, have officially expanded from their 8-school start-up into a national roll-out across 22 schools.
This 2020-2021 academic year welcomed the second cycle of the programme, in partnership with the Department of Education Services (DES) to deliver a part of the School Recovery Project. The School Recovery Project aims to address possible educational gaps created by COVID-19, as the pandemic disrupted some students’ academic agendas and impacted their mental health. Teachers and students are navigating an academic year unlike any experienced, this second cycle of the ELP is critical to the success of the School Recovery Project.
The UK Partnership for Children reported on both the challenges and successes that ELP-trained teachers have experienced teaching this programme, prior to and during the pandemic.
One SEND teacher who was trained last October remarked how imperative the ELP became in managing her students’ needs, especially during online classes in COVID-19 Lockdown:
“In a short space of time it was clear to see the impact the Zippy’s programme was having on the students with moderate learning difficulties that I was working with. The way that the students were interacting with each other improved, they were showing empathy and understanding of how everyone was feeling.
“The management of their own emotions improved within the first couple of sessions, they began using breathing and counting techniques, as well as other coping strategies learnt in Zippy’s Friends which helped to reduce the low-level disruptive behaviours within the classroom.
“The most amazing part was this all happened within such a short space of time, just over a term. The students and I were very invested in the programme and did what we could during the Covid-19 Lockdown to run the sessions over Zoom.
The SEND teacher even shared how the ELP’s teachings were beneficial to her personally: “I also applied the coping strategies we learnt in Zippy’s Friends in my everyday life to help manage the stress and emotional rollercoaster that comes along with being an educator and it helped me to feel more in control.”
Out of 32 countries who have implemented the ELP worldwide, The Cayman Islands was the first to secure the license for both the mainstream and Special Educational Needs & Disability (SEND) pathway from the beginning of implementation. This ensures equal access and opportunity for all children, regardless of ability or need.
The Cayman Islands is one of only 5 countries in the world to implement the SEND programme, in line with the Cayman Islands Disability policy, which aims to improve inclusion and equal access to health care, including mental health care.
To learn more about the Zippy’s and Apple’s Friends Programme or the SEND Programme, or for more information on upcoming events, please visit our website at www.alexpantonfoundation.ky or contact firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
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