Children aged four to seven from Petersfield Infant School in Hampshire took part in the attempt to beat the current world record which stands at 251 people hugging soft toys simultaneously, achieved by a middle school in the USA.
The event was organised by Barnardo’s Hampshire Healthy Families service to promote infant well-being, as hugging a soft toy has been found to reduce stress, help relaxation and improve emotional well-being.
Dr Radha Modgil, GP, co-host of BBC Radio 1’s The Surgery, and a campaigner for physical and mental well-being (pictured below with children), also attended the world record attempt to show her support.
The school and Barnardo’s are currently awaiting verification from the Guinness Book of Records that they have beaten the current world record.
Petersfield Infant School’s deputy headteacher Julie Amor said, ‘The children were all very excited to bring their toys to school and take part in a world record attempt. As a very large infant school we were hoping to smash the current record with a much greater number of children being involved. We were also hoping to hug our toys for much longer! Whether we broke the record or not, this was bound to be a fun-filled and memorable event for all our pupils.’
Rachel McKernan, assistant director of Children’s Services at Barnardo’s, said, ‘Hugs are one of the five activities parents are encouraged to do every day with their children to support their emotional development and this is an innovative way of highlighting the importance of mental health in children. It has been an opportunity for all of the children to get involved and be part of something record-breaking, which is very exciting.’