Young people at fore as The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit
Children and young people were front and centre as The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited Wolverhampton to find out about local organisations which support children and young people.
The visit, which took place yesterday (Thursday 13 May) as part of Mental Health Awareness Week, saw Their Royal Highnesses visit The Way Youth Zone, Base 25 and Hugglepets.
During their time in the city, The Duke and Duchess met young Wulfrunians including HeadStart Wolverhampton and #YES Ambassadors Melissa Page, David Omorehiomwan, Keisha Riley, Harman Kambo and Safira Palmrira who gave them a guided tour of The Way and joined them in a series of activities.
The tour of the popular Youth Zone, which is part-funded by the City of Wolverhampton Council, also saw the ambassadors accompany Their Royal Highnesses in a wellbeing workshop with Year 8 pupils from Moreton School. The workshop was led by a HeadStart Wolverhampton Wellbeing Navigator with the participants involved in a discussion and 'mind-mapping' activity focusing on mental health and wellbeing.
The Duke and Duchess then joined pupils from Long Knowle Primary School to plant fruit and vegetables in The Way's garden, and were shown an urban nature graffiti wall which is being created by young people who attend the Youth Zone.
The Royal couple also got to meet young people from Stowlawn Primary School who were taking part in a football coaching session provided by the Wolverhampton Wanderers Foundation.
Kush Patel, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Children's Innovation Lead, was among those in attendance. She said: "It was brilliant that The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were able to spend time and take part in activities with our children and young people during their visit to The Way.
“The young people were shocked when they found out who were attending and they had an amazing experience which they’ll remember forever.
“It was a wonderful day for everyone involved and we were proud to be able to share some of the great work which is taking place in Wolverhampton to support good mental health and wellbeing among our children and young people." David Omorehiomwan, HeadStart Ambassador and Year 10 pupil at Colton Hills Community School, said: “It was amazing to meet The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. I was shocked at how easy it was to speak to them – it was like speaking to friends I have known for a long time.
“I’m glad they came to Wolverhampton. It is a very diverse place with many different cultures and many different approaches to mental health. “They asked me about my lockdown experiences and how I use nature to benefit my emotional wellbeing. I told them how I had coped during the pandemic and how I make sure I enjoy nature to ensure that my mental health is my main focus.”
Colton Hills Headteacher Andrea Stephens said: “We were thrilled to learn that three of our students had the opportunity to meet with The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. We already knew what amazing ambassadors they are for Colton Hills Community School and it filled us with great pride to see them representing Wolverhampton in such a wonderful way.
“Thank you to The Way and HeadStart for offering them this once-in-a-lifetime experience, and for all of the help that they provide to support young people in our community.”
Long Knowle Primary School Headteacher Karen Elliot added: “It was a delight to see our pupils chatting so confidently and eloquently with Their Royal Highnesses. It was an experience they will remember for the rest of their lives.
“They shared their lockdown experiences and talked about how being outside and connecting with nature had supported their wellbeing. One pupil even encouraged The Duke to try growing chillies to use in his home cooking!”
Established by The National Lottery Community Fund, HeadStart is designed to improve the resilience and emotional wellbeing of children and young people by giving them the skills they need to address the challenges of modern life.
Blondel Cluff CBE, Chair of The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “The mental wellbeing of children and young people remains of vital importance after this challenging year.
"It was an honour to meet The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and show them some of the work that HeadStart Wolverhampton makes possible for local young people to help improve their mental health, wellbeing and resilience. Thanks to National Lottery players through the UK we are able to help fund this essential work in our communities.”
#YES is Wolverhampton’s Youth Engagement Strategy, launched in 2020 to young people across the city, focussing on three themes – Being Healthy, Being Connected and Being You. To find out more about the strategy, please visit www.youthengagementstrategy.co.uk.
Mental Health Awareness Week is the UK’s national week to raise awareness of mental health, hosted annually by the Mental Health Foundation. This year’s theme is centred around nature and the important role it can play to help improve mental wellbeing, as well as its power to prevent or aid recovery from poor mental health.