Beacon scheme ignites boy’s interest in learning
A 10-year-old boy whose autism medication made it a challenge to rise each morning, has begun to bounce out of bed and shine.
The young Chelsea fan is one of a group of students from St Mary’s and St Thomas primary school in St Helens, to banish their educational blues by completing the Beacon programme.
Funded by the Merseyside Violence Reduction Programme, the scheme teaches resilience and teamwork plus basic fire drills and first aid to children who are about to transition to high school shortly, or who are experiencing bullying, or have learning difficulties.
The six-week programme took place at the Community Fire Station in St Helens, and the sessions have become known been nicknamed “Fire Tuesday” by the pupils. Featuring rat runs and exercises to remove a dummy from a burning home, the programme has recently been celebrated by Liverpool John Moores University – go to https://merseysidevrp.com/media/1456/evaluation-of-the-beacon-project-march-2022-002.pdf
It has also proved a hit with parents and is coveted by “jealous classmates” who have not yet experienced the course!
At the recent Beacon presentation ceremony for participants, the boy’s mother said: “Autism makes it hard for him to get to sleep and the medication he takes makes him groggy. He loves school, but we are worried that his move to high school will be difficult, and he might mix with others who think making hoax calls, or setting fires is a good thing.”
Knowledge of and respect for, the emergency services is one of the key learnings of the Beacon programme. Detective Superintendent Siobhan Russell, Head of the VRP said: “Demystifying the work of the blue light services and building a closer relationship between them and the community can only be a positive thing. We are interdependent and rely on each other to make sure the streets are safe. Beacon humanises the Fire and Rescue service, imbues the children with confidence and teaches them new skills that most of us as parents don’t even know!”
Lindsey Lewis, Head Teacher of St Marys and St Thomas Primary School added: “Tuesday has become a particularly bright day for the children on the Beacon programme. They have demonstrated an understanding of community safety awareness and a greater knowledge of the importance of the fire service and what they bring. It even increased levels of attendance and engagement.”
The Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership runs and funds a raft or programmes designed to create opportunities for young people to reach their goals and keep them away from toxic environments. These include Reading to the Bump, which as the name suggests, encourages parents-to-be to communicate with their unborn child.
The boy’s mother believes intervening at primary school age is just right, a view echoed by Detective Superintendent Russell, who said: “This is a time when children become young people. Some can be impressionable and succumb to poor choices and peer pressure to become involved in unhealthy activities. With a grounding in the work of the emergency services, developing skills and an experience of the benefits of mentoring, I firmly believe they will keep to the right path and indeed, become beacons of hope for others.”
For further information
Please contact Pete Gibson on 0759 202 8142