Launched in 2002, ‘Zippy’s Friends’, a mental health promotion programme, is delivered by teachers in schools and kindergartens in 29 countries across Europe, Latin America, India and China.
This week, ‘Zippy’s Friends’ reached its one millionth child in a classroom in Sao Paulo, Brazil (pictured right), where the programme is known as ‘Amigos de Zippy’.
It coincides with Mental Health Awareness week 2014 running from 12-18 May.
To mark the programme’s milestone achievement, charity Partnership for Children, which manages ’Zippy’s Friends’, has launched a new website.
‘Zippy’s Friends’ is a story-based programme about a group of young children and Zippy, a pet stick insect. The programme is delivered across 24 sessions over a school year.
Through the stories, which cover a number of themes such as-feelings, communication, conflict resolution, change and loss and coping, and related activities including drawing, discussion, information sharing and role-play, children learn how to deal with everyday difficulties.
The idea behind the programme, which is designed for all children, is to teach five- to seven-year-olds coping skills before behaviours are set.
Chris Bale, director of Partnership for Children, said, ‘We are delighted to have reached the significant landmark of our first million children as good mental health is so important for children and adults in all societies.
‘Just as we pay attention to our children’s physical health by encouraging them to eat well and to exercise, not because they are ill but because we want to promote their health, Zippy’s Friends promotes children’s mental good health by teaching children skills for life in a positive and fun manner rather than treating mental ill health.
‘Given the increasing pressures that children and young people are facing today, it is crucial that children learn coping strategies to help them when they face crises in life. Learning resilience at a young age will have lifelong benefits for children during their lives and for society.’