IF you want to hear a story about good mental health, then Tameside Libraries' Story Makers sessions are the place to hear it.
The current programme – entitled "Sunny Days and Rainy Days" – is all about exploring children's emotions and anxieties with a focus on mindfulness and wellbeing. This ties in perfectly with Children's Mental Health Week which starts on Monday, February 6.
Run by Place2Be, whose royal patron is the Princess of Wales, it has the theme "Let's Connect" and is all about reducing isolation and loneliness, which have such a negative effect on mental health, by making meaningful connections and creating the communities in which people thrive.
Story Makers comprises weekly interactive storytelling activities for pre-school children and their families and early years settings. They fit in with the Tameside Loves Reading campaign and are funded by Tameside Community Safety Partnership.
More than 1,000 youngsters aged four and under have attended the sessions in libraries and on Zoom.
As in previous years, families who attend are working with award-winning writer Caryl Hart and illustrator Andy Rowland to create a picture book. Every child who has attended Story Makers sessions receives a free copy at a special launch event.
Interactive sessions with Simon the Storyteller continue until April 19 and no booking is necessary. They take place at:
- Hyde Library: Tuesdays 9.30 to 10.15am.
- Mossley Library: Tuesdays 1.30 to 2.15pm.
- Stalybridge Library: Wednesdays 1.30 to 2.15pm.
Cllr Sangita Patel, Tameside Council's assistant executive member for culture, heritage and digital inclusivity, said: "Children have mental health issues just the same as adults, so I'm very pleased that Story Makers gives us the chance to do some good in this very important area.
"Our weekly sessions connect us with Children's Mental Health Week and its 'Let's Connect' theme by getting people together. Adults meet and chat while their little ones enjoy stories, music, singing and even bubble dancing.
"It's also worth bearing in mind that reading itself is good for mental health. It's fun, it reduces stress and provides an escape from the everyday world. Story Makers introduces children to books at a very early age."