massage lessons brought into Borders primary schools are to promote relaxation rather than aid “stressed children”, says Scottish Borders Council, writes Kenny Paterson.
Complementary therapist Julie Hamilton, of Ancrum, has emphasised that the programme used, Massage in Schools, is designed to help pupils to focus and learn better rather than to combat stress.
She has visited four schools and worked with more than 100 pupils as young as four.
Mrs Hamilton said: “The programme is designed for four to 12-year-olds.
“It is a programme which is used all over the world, including Australia, Canada and Poland.
“It does help with stress because relaxation does, but it also combats viruses.
“It helps the children focus and be calm so they can learn better. If they come in from running around in the playground, these techniques can calm them down and help them to learn.
“It promotes positive behaviour and respect between pupils.
“I think it is something which should have been brought into Borders schools earlier.”
Yvonne McCracken, Scottish Borders Council’s head of schools services (west), said: “The schools involved saw these sessions as a means to help pupils relax in a fun way and do not consider this to be for ‘stressed’ children.
“It is one of the many things that takes place in schools to support the health and wellbeing of children.”
The scheme is not funded by SBC – schools pay for the service themselves or benefit from free taster sessions.
Mrs Hamilton, 48, set up her business, Complementary Therapies, with help from Business Gateway and branched out into school-based therapy this year.
She said: “The response has been amazing. The skills that the pupils are learning will aid them as they grow, giving them techniques they can use when faced with exam, work or relationship worries.”
Teachers have told the mother of one that her school sessions have been “fantastic” and “really calmed down the class”.
During a massage session pupils remain fully clothed, while techniques such as “guided relaxation” are used where pupils lie on the floor and listen to Mrs Hamilton as she talks them through a process that helps relieve tension.
“Entrepreneurs always have faith in their business ideas but Julie not only believes in her therapies, she actually benefits from them,” said Sandra Campbell of Business Gateway – Mrs Hamilton uses therapy to manage her own painful arthritis.
“There’s no greater selling tool than that. Her work in school is to be commended and we will continue to work with her to ensure that her business grows.”
Mrs Hamilton said: “My future plans are to take these wonderful therapies to as many schools, groups, people and businesses in the Scottish Borders and by doing so spread greater understanding of stress and how we can all benefit from bringing some calm to our lives through complementary therapy.”