Posted by Phil on 05.07.2012
By lunchtime on Thursday, the team from the York Schools and Youth Trust (YoYo) had transformed half of the hall at St Oswald’s Primary School in York from a big empty space to an array of calm and colourful zones, each with a different theme. Zones included spaces for saying sorry, being thankful, marvelling at the world, at ourselves and space to take time out. For a day and a half, each child in the school got the opportunity to come and explore the zones, reflect and pray if they wanted to.
As the Year 3/4 class explored the bubble zone, a teacher asked one of the boys, “How does the bubble tube make you feel?” The response, “It makes me feel really calm,” seemed to come as a surprise. “Isn’t that pretty amazing for you? You usually have far too much energy to be calm!”
Whilst some were simply affected by the atmosphere, many children also found the bubble zone a place to open up about their troubles. One post-it stuck on the tube read ‘I’m really worried about meeting my real parents as I’m adopted, will they like me? At least I can talk to God about it.’
The activities in the sorry zone had a particular impact on one class which had been having a lot of disagreements. Here the children were encouraged to say sorry for things they had done wrong and know that they could be forgiven by writing it on a whiteboard, then wiping it clean. They also had the chance to let go of any angry feelings they might be holding onto by dropping a tablet into a vase of water and watching it dissolve – as one child put it, “the fizzy tablet helped me to let go and calm down’. As they left, the class teacher commented on what a positive change the experience had made to the class dynamic.
The Year 5/6 teacher summed the prayer space up saying, “A warm, positive and encouraging response from all pupils was really heartening. Respectful attitude was maintained due to experiences and quality preparation of the environment. Made me want to try this myself as a termly exercise!”
In fact one suggestion for the future was that we could even offer a staff session at lunch time, which goes to show what an impact a prayer space can have on the whole school community, and not just on the pupils who attend.