'I didn't know I could talk to God like that.' Fantastic Report from Wiltshire
Catherine Wallace is a Head of RE in Wiltshire. This is her report on their first prayer space, and on the impact that their follow-up assembly had on parents.
"We are a primary school of just over 200 children and we worked with Lacock Primary School and St. James’ Church, Devizes, to share ideas and resources. Our prayer space ran from 17th-19th June and it was a truly memorable and emotional three days. Alongside the prayer space we made a whole school mosaic cross where each child was asked to place individual mosaic tiles to represent their gifts and talents that they bring to our school community.
The ‘teaser’ poster campaign before the event was very successful – we did lots of posters of ‘What would Ronaldo pray?’ ‘What would Katy Perry pray? etc. and dotted them around the school. This really got both the children and staff talking, anticipating and asking lots of questions. Every child was invited to the prayer space for 30 minutes (15 children at a time) and we also opened the space at lunchtimes. Over 75 children came back voluntarily over the lunchtimes treating it very respectfully and engaging in their own prayer experiences.
We had 5 prayer activities. Each activity offered a unique experience, but I would say that the Fizzy Forgiveness was the most popular and I was overwhelmed by the reactions of some of the children as they genuinely entered a place of forgiveness and letting their hurt and anger go. The children were also able to be totally open and honest with their prayer requests on the post-it wall – some deeply moving prayers were offered and we have indeed seen some answered already!
'A special place where you can be yourself’
We were able to do a short feedback session individually with each class to get their reactions and here are some of their amazing quotes:
- ‘I didn’t want to come out of there’
- ‘No one judged you’
- ‘A special place where you can be yourself’
- ‘Saw my hatred disappear’
- ‘We had our own time with God’
One of the feedback themes that recurred the most was that the children were able to be themselves and have their own unstructured time of peace – a very rare gift in the school day. Staff also regularly reported that the students seemed so calm after their visit to the prayer space.
My daughter had a conversation with one of her peers who said that, ‘I didn’t know that I could talk to God like that!’. Previously they had always seen prayer as something adults say and you just say Amen at the end.
It was a true privilege to be involved in ‘opening the door to heaven’ for many of these children.
One of the most beautiful follow-up moments was when we were able to feed back to parents in a parents’ assembly a few weeks later. We talked about what the prayer space was (for those who had been unable to attend) and showed many of the quotes that the children fed back themselves, followed by a series of 70 photos of their children praying. It was very emotional (four rows of parents in tears!), and what an opportunity to share the power of prayer. I pray that it opened many conversations in the children’s homes and that we will be able to repeat the prayer space and have a regular Prayer Wall in the future."
Catherine Wallace, Head of RE, Bishops Cannings, Wiltshire