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We are thrilled to announce our three latest Centres of Excellence – two schools and one college. This prestigious award is presented to schools, charities and organisations where at least four members of staff are trained in the Story Massage Programme and they have been using it for over a year. Our Centres of Excellence show remarkable commitment and enthusiasm for delivering the benefits of the programme with care and respect for every individual.

Introducing Our New Centres of Excellence

Access School, Shropshire

The Story Massage Programme is used on a daily basis for pupils, ranging from 6 to 16, at this school providing therapeutic education within a Secure Base model. Many of the pupils have significant attachment difficulties and a lack of trust from childhood trauma. There has been a marked improvement in building strong and trusting relationships between peers and also staff and peers. The combination of positive touch and stories has also provided a flexible strategy for self-regulation and for pupils to be regulated and supported by an adult.

Department of Inclusive Learning, Hertford Regional College

The Story Massage Programme is an important part of tutorials and class sessions for adult learners with complex needs at Hertford Regional College. It has proved to be a fun and fully inclusive activity for learning life skills as everyone can engage at their own level. Participating in Story Massage sessions has improved confidence and self-esteem and helped learners to meet demanding targets, especially for communication and social interaction. Learners also experience staff in a different way, helping to build trust and positive relationships.

Ty Gwyn Special School, Cardiff

Sensory experiences are significant to pupils at Ty Gwyn Special School and the Story Massage Programme has now become integral to the multi-sensory approach to learning within the school curriculum. It is used across the whole school with pupils aged from 3 – 19 with autism and/or profound and complex needs. Pupils clearly enjoy the sessions and there has been a noticeable improvement in eye contact, anticipation, engagement and body awareness. It has also become a successful intervention in calming extreme behaviours in some pupils.

Feedback from our Centre of Excellence Award Winners

“We use Story Massage across the whole school in groups and individually – it is part of our school life now. Our pupils talk positively about Story Massage and feel confident in asking when they need one. Some of our more challenging pupils are finding they can use it to regulate at times of extreme emotion.” Sarah Earing, Headteacher, Access School

“A key benefit for our adult learners with complex needs has been increased knowledge of positive touch and the ability to differentiate between touch that feels safe and touch that doesn’t feel safe. Learners can say they don’t want Story Massage and just listen. Everyone in the group learns that ‘no’ is fully respected and hopefully this will empower them to say a confident ‘no’ to unwanted touch in their future.” Astrid Gilmartin, Life Skills Lecturer, Hertford Regional College

“Story Massage has had a particularly positive impact on one young man, aged 18, with autism and extremely challenging and disruptive behaviour. He requires a high staff ratio of 2:1. We have introduced Story Massage as part of literacy focused activities, and he is now able to participate and engage in the session calmly. He has a more positive relationship with the staff, allowing them to work with him and accept massage.” Hollie Parsons, Senior Teaching Assistant, Ty Gwyn Special School.

Would you like to train in Story Massage?

Are you inspired by the work of our amazing Best Practice Winners? Find out all about Story Massage training options here: Story Massage Training

The post Centre of Excellence Award Winners – June 2019 appeared first on Story Massage.

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Congratulations to our latest Best Practice Award winners. These inspirational people have shown real commitment, creativity and passion in sharing the benefits of the Story Massage Programme with people of all ages and abilities. Here is a brief look at the amazing work that they do to make a real difference to the lives of babies, children and adults.

Introducing our Best Practice Award Winners

Yvonne Bradley

Yvonne is a Relax Kids Coach (Relax Kids Scarborough) working with children aged 4-10 years in four primary schools delivering in-school sessions and after-school clubs. She also runs sessions for WHISH (Whitby Hidden Impairments Support and Help) charity for children and young people with hidden impairments and their families. Yvonne finds that the Story Massage Programme can really enhance the bond between parent/carer/grandparent and a child/young person with additional needs. And she says that is it extra special when the adult receives a massage too. Sometimes there are three generations involved!

Lisa Childs

Lisa runs Sensory Massage classes (Baby Massage Chester) as a follow-on from her baby massage classes. She says it is so successful that she now has around 40 babies a week doing Story Massage. Lisa enjoys seeing parents become more confident with their babies through the use of positive touch. One mother came to the class feeling lonely and isolated, and was finding becoming a parent very challenging.  Story Massage helped her to bond with her baby and she became comfortable with nurturing and touching her child.

Valerie Colrain

Valerie is class teacher at Darnley Primary and Visual Impairment School in Glasgow. She uses the Story Massage Programme with her own class (Primary 4/5) and has given the children the title of Story Massage Ambassadors as they now demonstrate their skills at assemblies and share Story Massage with the infants. Valerie has created a Story Massage wall in the main hall where she displays a Story Massage of the Month for pupils to try at school and at home. Children write their own stories too – and feel very proud of their literary achievements.

Valerie says the most immediate benefit is the calmer atmosphere in class. There are less incidences of trouble in the playground and transition times between subjects and moving around the school are more relaxed. Although Story Massage hasn’t resolved all the needs of the children in her class, Valerie says it has allowed better communication between peers and between children and staff.

Kathryn Donovan

Kathryn is a Well-Being and Trauma Practitioner (Wellbeing South Wales) working in schools and running community classes and 1-1 sessions. She says it is quite magical how the Story Massage Programme can help build trust and connections with carer/parent/sibling allowing children to feel safe and loved. Kathryn allows children to take the lead in her sessions and encourages them to create their own stories using the Story Massage stickers. This proved really beneficial for one young person who was able to express the pain and devastation of bereavement and gently come to a place of acceptance and understanding. Kathryn’s son does all his presentations in school around Story Massage and the children line up for him to do the massage on them!

Kirsty Forsyth

Kirsty is an Emotional Wellbeing Practitioner and Relax Kids Coach. She includes the Story Massage Programme in all her sessions – with full classes, small groups, 1-1 sessions, parent/child sessions and parent only sessions. Among the benefits she has noticed greater respect for others and increased social skills, empathy and kindness. Kirsty believes the discussion around consent/asking for permission and always saying thank you is a vital part of the process. The Story Massage Programme also helps enhance creativity and imagination with children writing their own massage stories on different themes and reinforcing learning in a fun and alternative way.

Cheryl Kennedy

Cheryl is an Autism and Well-Being Consultant. She has developed her own wellbeing program (Confident Kids) and uses Story Massage in one of the steps to promote connection to others. She finds that sharing a Story Massage based on a keen interest can help children to make new friends. The simple exchange of asking permission can open up a new level of friendly eye contact and smiles. It has enabled her to engage children, even those that were initially reluctant, in group conversations. In her 1-1 sessions, Cheryl has used Story Massage as a gentle way of getting children to recognise and talk about their difficult emotions.

Katie Smith

Katie is a Certified IAIM Infant Massage Instructor and runs her own business Blissful Bebe Massage which has been enhanced by the introduction of the Story Massage Programme. She includes Story Massage in five-week Baby Massage Course and has designed her own Baby Story Massage and Toddler Story Massage as follow-on courses. Following requests from parents, she also runs a Sibling Story Massage Workshop for toddlers and pre-schoolers and their new baby siblings. Parents report back that bedtime massage stories have really helped with relaxation and easier bedtime routines for all ages. Katie says that families love the positive touch, bonding time and the closeness that it brings.

Claire Starling

Claire is Sensory Champion for Sensory Pathway at Saxon Hill Academy, Lichfield. She uses the Story Massage Programme regularly within her complex needs sensory class for 14 -19-year-old learners. The enjoyment and benefits are so apparent that she organised a whole school assembly for pupils from 2-19 years to experience Story Massage. This led to parents wanting to know more so they could use it at home. Claire has also found sharing massage stories is a wonderful way of calming Brownies on a pack holiday!

Ann de Young

Ann is a Relax Kids Coach (Relax Kids Maidstone&Malling) and uses the Story Massage Programme within the Relax Kids ‘Feel’ element of the 7 steps to relaxation. She delivers weekly sessions across five primary schools per term and runs a community based after school club. She also works closely with her local Virtual Schools group supporting children in care and their foster parents via workshops in the holidays.  Ann says it is now part of every session as it so versatile and inclusive. The children protest if it is not included! Ann finds it particularly rewarding to see adults relaxing and laughing in the sessions and she often uses this time to reflect on the need for self-care.

Feedback from our Best Practice Awards Winners

“Story Massage brings a new enjoyment for stories and rhymes. It has given the most complex needs pupils the opportunity to take part in stories and rhymes. I have built up a file with massage stories related to the themes and topics that we are working on at the moment.” Claire Starling

“Adults enjoy Story Massage as much as the children in our family sessions. Sometimes there is a lot of reluctance as they step out of their comfort zone, but they visibly relax by the second stroke. One foster carer told me she seldom relaxed and she could feel the stress and tension easing away during the session, and it was a great feeling.” Ann de Young

“I love hearing feedback about the fun and creativity of the Story Massage Programme in the family home. One child gave her Granny a massage to calm her down because she was getting annoyed when she was on the phone to the doctor. Another family who have English as a second language have used Story Massage to help their Mum learn and practice English.” Kirsty Forsyth

“My advice is to relax and enjoy the Story Massage Programme. If you are enjoying it then so will the babies and their parents. Story Massage is fun – so make your sessions fun whilst not forgetting to communicate the importance of positive touch and feelings. And look after the parents. A drink and a biscuit at the end of class is always appreciated and gives the chance for them to create develop support networks and friendships that are so important for a new parent.” Lisa Childs

“During Story Massage sessions, the children are very relaxed. You can see on their faces the impact that positive touch has on them. Everyone is encouraged to join in, but they always ask permission first. If they are not comfortable with peer massage, then they do self-massage. Most children are now confident to tell each other if the touch they receive is too light or hard and tell us their favourite strokes.” Yvonne Bradley

“Many children are nervous of sudden touch. Being able to predict the movements and put them in the context of a story can help ease concerns around touch. The massage story can be on display, so everyone knows what is coming. No surprises mean there are less anxieties and better connections to others.” Cheryl Kennedy

“My advice is to be flexible. Quite often we can be waiting to go to lunch or to the hall for PE and I’ll make up a massage story on the spot about what we are going to do. This can often be very settling before an activity and only takes a few minutes. Longer sessions are planned but the more spontaneous ones are often the best.” Valerie Colrain

“The Story Massage Programme can be so easily adapted for all ages. Babies love the singing, rhyming and one-to-one interaction with their parents. Toddlers enjoy the interactive nature of Story Massage and the sensory experience of props during the sessions. Pre-schoolers and school age children like sharing tunes and stories they know – and there is always great enjoyment when they write their own massage stories.” Katie Smith

“Story Massage can break through loneliness, pain, low self-esteem, confusion and uncertainty. It is uplifting and empowering and leaves both giver and receiver feeling amazing. I always get great feedback from children and parents and carers.” Kathryn Donovan

Would you like to train in Story Massage?

Are you inspired by the work of our amazing Best Practice Award Winners? Why not set yourself a goal to train in the Story Massage Programme? (Thank you to Kirsty Forsyth for this photo from one of her Story Massage sessions!) We run face-to-face trainings around the UK and Eire, have an online course and also run in-house and groups training sessions. Find out all about the options here: Story Massage Training

The post Best Practice Award Winners – June 2019 appeared first on Story Massage.

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There was a wonderful sense of community and mutual respect at our first Story Massage Conference on May 11th 2019. We all agreed that it was the perfect opportunity to meet others, learn new skills, reflect on Story Massage practice and feel totally inspired and re-energised. Indeed, one of the first questions to our expert panel was “When is the next Story Massage Conference?”

The Story Massage Experts

The guest speakers and workshop presenters were so generous in sharing their knowledge, skills and experience – and travelled a long way – to make the conference such a resounding success. Click on their names below to find out more about their amazing work.

  • Lorraine E Murray – Founder of Connected Kids and author of Calm Kids
  • Vicky Mulholland – Independent speech and language therapist and founder of ACE’s (Adverse Childhood Experiences) Scotland Forum.
  • Tracey Allport – Founder of MOTH therapies and occupational therapist.
  • Hazel Cunningham – Independent nurture practitioner and Relax Kids Coach.
  • Caroline Hill – Director and Founder of Making SENse Creative Services

Key Messages from the Conference

It would be impossible to distill the depth and breadth of the information and ideas into a short blog – so here are some of the key messages from the day.

Practice Self-Care

Lorraine asked the important question: “How often do you have a Story Massage?” Surely we need to gain the benefits for ourselves too?  Lorraine highlighted the importance of self-care and talked us through some beautiful mindful meditations based on self-compassion. She simplified the idea of meditation, making us realise that simply engaging with the out-breath can help us feel more calm and relaxed.

The theme of self-care was echoed by other speakers. We were reminded that when working in a challenging and stressful environment, it is essential to look after ourselves and stay centred and grounded. When we allow time to process and reflect, we can manage difficult emotions in a calmer and more helpful way for everyone concerned.

Be ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) Aware

Both Lorraine and Vicky discussed the harmful effects of the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism on mind and body. Vicky looked at research (Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Study, Felliti et al, 1998) revealing that many of the children/adults that we work with will have experienced adversity and trauma. Vicky shared a ‘Pyramid of Learning’ diagram that shows the importance of calming the central nervous system before any learning can take place. With some emotional examples of children she has worked with, Vicky showed how when used with sensitivity to individual needs and experiences, Story Massage can make a real difference.

During the afternoon workshop, Hazel and Vicky looked at individual case studies of children with Adverse Childhood Experiences and continued the discussion of establishing safe touch. We looked at choice of story relevant to the individual child, use of body language, eye contact, choice of words and tone of voice. Above all, the message was to look after yourself and stay safe – remembering that your role as a Story Massage Practitioner is supportive within a whole team approach.

Enjoy Creativity

We were encouraged to release our inner child and enjoy being playful in Caroline and Lorraine’s afternoon workshops. Caroline filled the room with colour as she invited everyone to decorate umbrellas and use streamers, bubbles, pompoms, and much more, to add sensory activities to massage stories. There was a great sense of fun as we worked together to transform inexpensive, everyday items into spectacular sensory props to accompany Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside and Somewhere over the rainbow. 

Lorraine also gently invited us to step out of our comfort zone and access the creative, spontaneous sides of our brains. Using mindful meditation and visualisation, she used colour to show ways of sharing massage stories without a script. After taking part in Lorraine’s simple Rainbow Massage Story we all felt inspired to work with intuition – and more comfortable with using mindfulness to encourage children to create their own stories too.

Be Flexible

Self-care, safe touch and creativity were also themes of Tracey’s workshop – but a key message was to be flexible especially when working with babies and toddlers. Although Tracey prepares and structures her classes carefully, she allows the babies to take the lead so each class is completely different. This flexibility ensures that everyone gains the maximum benefits from sharing positive touch – and even Tracey was surprised by the long list of benefits that she shared with us!  Tracey’s obvious enthusiasm and passion generated lots of questions about using Story Massage as a follow-on from baby massage – and turned an idea into a reality for many attending.

Embrace the Story Massage Programme

This quote below from Martin Luther King summed up the sense of commitment and compassion that ran through every aspect of the conference. The Story Massage Programme offers us all a glorious opportunity to bring love to our society – so please share it as widely and as often as you can.

Our Next Story Massage Conference …

Watch this space – we are already planning 2020!

The post Story Massage Conference 2019 – Reflections appeared first on Story Massage.

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The Story Massage Programme is recommended as an interactive, engaging and useful in-house training day. Would you like to know more? We take a look at a recent in-house training day at Woodlands Special School in Plymouth to give you an idea of what to expect.

Introducing the Story Massage Programme

The day began with an introduction to the Story Massage Programme and a demonstration of two simple massage stories. This was also a chance to work together to find out how the day could be tailored to meet the individual needs of the group.

At the heart of the programme is positive and respectful touch. Permission is always sought to touch, and thanks are given at the end. So everyone was invited to share a massage story, if they wished.

The Story Massage Programme combines the nurturing benefits of positive touch with the fun and creativity of storytelling. Ten simple massage strokes form the basis of the programme. These ten strokes are used to illustrate the words of the story.  Each stroke has a name, such as The Circle or The Sprinkle, and an easy to recognise symbol. It is a fully inclusive activity for all ages and abilities. No clothing is removed and no oil is used.

Learning the Ten Story Massage Strokes

We spent time teaching the ten strokes and learning how they can be used to help bring a story alive. The Circle stroke, for example, could illustrate the world, a pizza or a sense of community. The Fan stroke could illustrate growing, flying or a volcano.

The ten strokes can be given on any part of the body that is accessible and appropriate making it ideal for children or adults with special education needs. So during the in-house training day we encouraged everyone to practice the strokes on hands, legs, arms to experience how it feels to give and receive. And the response was very positive.

Adapting Stories for Positive Touch Activities

Next, we invited everyone to work in small groups to adapt simple nursery rhymes by choosing the strokes that best suited the words. There was a real buzz in the room as they began discussing and demonstrating their adapted massage stories.

Discussing Guidelines and Benefits

We emphasised the importance of respectful touch during a session on guidelines for sharing the Story Massage programme. This was a time to ask questions to ensure everyone felt comfortable with implementing the activity within the different classes at the school. We discussed the many potential benefits for the children and staff. These included increased communication and engagement, preparation for events and activities, building of trust, inclusion and developing expressive language.

Creating a Massage Story

After lunch, we looked at creating individual massage stories to share with the children. Subjects ranged from social stories such as A Visit to the Library and The Weekly Routine, to curriculum topics including The Circus. And then we worked together to create a Woodlands School Massage Story. Here is a video of staff demonstrating their massage story. (You will find the words of the story at the bottom of this page.)

Story Massage at Woodlands School - YouTube

The Story Massage Programme Resources

At the end of the day, everyone received a certificate and we discussed resources to support the programme. These include a book, stickers, wall charts and lanyards. Resources are available for sale on training days and from our website. Our in-house training days are also supported by regular newsletters, social media updates and blogs.

Positive Feedback for In-House Training Day

“We now have the tools and resources to take it straight into class and build our own stories from day one.”

“Since the in-house training day we have been using Story Massage almost daily in class. The children really relax and show their enjoyment. Other classes are just as keen. We will certainly be going for the Story Massage Centre of Excellence Awards next year.”

“We had very positive feedback from the day’s training.  I am very hopeful that it can now become a way of life at Woodlands.”

“It was a fantastic day. It was great to learn together so that we can support each other in developing the programme within the school.”

“I’m looking forward to introducing the Story Massage Programme to the parents as it is such an easy and adaptable way of sharing positive touch with the children.”

Would you like to book an in-house training day?

Cost: £1600 for up to 20 delegates, plus travel and accommodation. This includes the experience and expertise of two trainers plus a comprehensive training manual and certificate for each attendee.

or

£800 for up to 10 delegates, plus travel and accommodation. This includes the experience and expertise of one trainer plus a comprehensive training manual and certificate for each attendee.

To discuss options and dates: please contact Mary and Sandra.

The post Positive Feedback for In-House Training Day appeared first on Story Massage.

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How do you run a successful Story Massage Workshop for parents/carers within a school setting? Here are some tips from Jennifer Monteith, nurture teacher at Thorntree School in Glasgow. She says their recent event was a very relaxed afternoon with lots of bonding, positive touch and smiley faces!

Promoting the workshop to parents/carers

The session was opened out to the whole school. We promised it at the two previous Parents’ Evenings with displays of the wallcharts, a PowerPoint and some photos. We tried to speak to parents about it too. Just before the event, we sent out a couple of text reminders to all parents asking them to come along for a relaxing afternoon sharing Story Massage with their children.

Introducing the session

The workshop lasted from 2-3pm. We were so pleased that 15 parents came, some brought their young children with them. It was run by myself and two colleagues – Justine Horn, Depute Head, and Katrina.

As each parent arrived, we arranged for their children to be collected from their classes. During this time we spoke briefly about the benefits of the Story Massage Programme, how it can be used at home and the basic rules such as asking permission and saying thank you. Then when everyone was present, we started demonstrating the ten strokes.

Teaching the Story Massage strokes

We know that the children are all confident with the strokes so we encouraged the adults to practice on their child/children. It was a new experience for many of them but they all joined in and loved it. We went around the room helping them and answering any questions.

Then we all did a simple massage story together. We used a version of Incy, Wincy Spider written by children in our Treetops Nurture Room.

Sharing simple nursery rhymes

We invited them to find a comfy space to work with their children. There was a choice of chairs or cushions. We gave out some simple massage stories and asked the adults and children to take turns trying them out.

Stories included Baa Baa Black Sheep and the nursery rhymes from the Story Massage Book. We also gave them a massage story about Spring too. It was so good to see families having such fun together.

Writing massage stories

Finally, we gave out some blank Story Massage templates and strips of stickers and encouraged the adults to have a go at writing a massage story with their children.

Everyone was really engaged and the children enjoyed teaching their parents/carers all about Story Massage. They loved showing off their skills. Justine, Katrina and I moved around the room interacting and giving a bit of guidance if needed.

They created some fantastic new massage stories. I think it is important to make time in a workshop for writing stories as this brings everything together.

Handouts to take home

Justine made handouts with a reminder of each stroke and how to do it. And everyone was given copies of the massage stories we had practiced during the afternoon, as well as the ones they made up. It was a really lovely interactive session as you can see from all the photos!

More about the Story Massage Programme

The Story Massage Programme combines positive touch with the fun and creativity of storytelling. Ten simple massage strokes form the basis of the programme. These ten strokes each have a name, such as The Circle or The Sprinkle, and an easy to recognise symbol making it accessible for all. It is a fully inclusive activity. No clothing is removed and no oil is used.

Would you like to train in the Story Massage Programme?

Are you inspired by the work of Thorntree Primary School with their parent workshops? We run a one day accredited training course held around the country for individuals and groups to train how to share the Story Massage Programme. These days can also be organised as in-house training sessions.  And we also have a new online training option.

During the day, you will learn how to share the ten Story Massage strokes, how to adapt familiar stories and create some sensory stories of your own. Ideal for teachers, parents, well-being coaches, therapists, SEN staff, support staff, Early Years practitioners, those working with people with additional needs, everyone with an interest in sharing positive touch activities with adults or children. All the information is here: Story Massage Training

The post Families Share Story Massage in School Workshop appeared first on Story Massage.

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Erin, aged 6, is our guest blogger today. Erin tells us how she wrote her own massage poem as part of a school homework project. She was first introduced to the Story Massage Programme on a Children’s Yoga Workshop run by a trained Story Massage Instructor. These are Erin’s own words.

Story Massage makes me feel calm

I like Story Massage because it goes with my yoga. It makes me feel calm and I like the stories and words.  I feel like I’m asleep already and I can smile with my eyes closed. I like Mummy to do my Story Massage because Daddy messes around and is silly and not calm. I have Story Massage every night before bed.

I like the Story Massage book

Mummy bought me the Story Massage book. I like it because I can read the words and I can know all of the massage strokes myself. I can show my friends how to do the stories and I can share the book with my family.
Story Massage is very nice because I can make my own ideas and write them to go with the massage. And I can choose what massage to go with my writing. I like writing.

My teacher said ‘well done’ for my homework

I did a Story Massage that I made for my homework, it was about light and sunshine and a rainbow. I did all of the writing and ideas from my learning and Mummy let me choose the massage strokes to match it all up. My teacher said ‘Well done, very lovely Erin.’ It made me feel happy and well done!

The sun sets at bedtime and the sun comes up in the morning.

The sun makes the flowers grow, helps you see and warms you up.

A calculator is solar powered. It can only work in the light.

It takes just over 8 minutes for light to travel from the sun to the earth.

White light can be split into 7 colours, red, yellow, orange, green, blue, indigo and violet.

This makes a rainbow.

More about the Story Massage Programme

The Story Massage Programme combines positive touch with the fun and creativity of storytelling. Ten simple massage strokes form the basis of the programme. These ten strokes each have a name, such as The Circle or The Sprinkle, and an easy to recognise symbol making it accessible for all (see Erin’s wonderful massage story above).

It is a fully inclusive activity. No clothing is removed and no oil is used.

Would you like to train in the Story Massage Programme?

Are you inspired by Erin’s creative use of Story Massage for her school homework? We run a one day accredited training course held around the country for individuals and groups. These days can also be organised as in-house training sessions.  And we also have a new online training option.

We teach you how to share the ten Story Massage strokes and work with you to adapt familiar stories and even create some sensory stories of your own. Ideal for teachers, parents, well-being coaches, therapists,SEN staff, support staff, Early Years practitioners, those working with people with additional needs, everyone with an interest in sharing positive touch activities with adults or children. All the information is here: Story Massage Training

The post Using Story Massage for School Homework appeared first on Story Massage.

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Yoga Instructors now are training in the Story Massage Programme to add creativity and fun to their yoga sessions. We talk to Clare Gendy about the positive feedback from a recent children’s yoga workshop held in the Yoga Cafe in Waterlooville, Hampshire. 
Who attended the yoga workshop?
There were six children, five girls and a boy, aged between six and nine years old. It was initially a one-off but there is definitely enough interest to run more. It so important to help share the skills of conscious relaxation with children of all ages to help them better manage the stresses they will come across in their lives.

How did you structure the workshop?
It lasted for two and a half hours with a break in the middle. We began with some yoga, then they shared a massage story. And then we did more yoga and finished with a massage story. The Story Massage Programme is an excellent complement for children’s yoga and made a real difference to the popularity of the session. It meant that I was able to break up the workshop with different activities, which kept the children engaged.
The workshop was based on the theme of Spring. I chose a lovely poem called Five Little Seeds and adapted it as a positive touch activity. I gave the children a handout with the story and Story Massage strokes so they could continue at home with family and friends. Story Massage can be easily incorporated into home life.

Positive feedback from the session
Parents have contacted me to say how much the children learnt from the workshop. One Mum told me the her daughter has been having a massage story every day. She loved it so much that she was given the Story Massage book as a present at Easter.  She is now writing her own poems for her school homework. It is a wonderful way to encourage children’s creativity and develop confidence.

More about the Story Massage Programme

Story Massage combines positive touch with the fun and creativity of storytelling. Ten simple massage strokes form the basis of the programme. These ten strokes each have a name, such as The Circle or The Sprinkle, and an easy to recognise symbol making it accessible for all (see massage story above). It is a fully inclusive activity. No clothing is removed and no oil is used.

Would you like to train in Story Massage?

Are you looking for ideas for your emotional and well-being curriculum? We run a one day accredited training course held around the country for individuals and groups. These days can also be organised as in-house training sessions.  And we also have a new online training option.

We teach you how to share the ten Story Massage strokes and work with you to adapt familiar stories and even create some sensory stories of your own. Ideal for well-being coaches, therapists, teachers, SEN staff, support staff, Early Years practitioners, those working with people with additional needs, everyone with an interest in sharing positive touch activities with adults or children. All the information is here: Story Massage Training

The post Creative Children’s Yoga Workshop appeared first on Story Massage.

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The Early Focus Project in Dublin has shared the Story Massage Programme as part of the Emotional and Well-Being Curriculum for the past three years. We talk to Melissa Hogan, Project Co-ordinator and Una Curran, mindfulness and well-being coach, about their award-winning work in helping children feel safe, secure, comforted and regarded.

Story Massage and Difficult Emotions

The Early Focus Project is based within a Southside inner city school. The project aims to provide children with a safe place to be listened to and supported as they explore a range of difficult emotions.

Teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNA) are trained in the Story Massage Programme so it can be widely used in the emotional and well-being curriculum. “The combination of positive touch and words helps children to explore and discuss their emotions while forgetting their problems and anxieties for a while,” explain Melissa and Una. “Our well-being lessons are structured around a theme such as angry feelings, gratitude or making mistakes. The massage story is based on the theme of the lesson.” Here is an example.

What are the key benefits of the Story Massage Programme?

Positive and Respectful touch

Nurturing touch raises the levels of oxytocin, the feel-good hormone, making us feel happy, relaxed and connected. Not all children enjoy positive touch for a variety of reasons. Story Massage helps children to experience respectful touch in a safe and supportive environment.

Children are asked if they want a massage story as part of being respectful to each other.  Sometimes children refuse and they know this is okay. They are often more willing to join in because they do have a choice.

Engagement and Focus

Many children, especially those with ADHD and autism, find it hard to sit still and listen in lessons. But they give their full attention when they give and receive a massage story. And there is increased eye contact as they watch for the next stroke. One boy refused to join in most of the activities in the well-being sessions but after a few weeks he began to join in the Story Massage sessions with an SNA or another boy. He gradually started taking part in more activities and now sits calmly for the meditation at the end of the lesson.

Emotional regulation

“Some emotions and feelings can be hard to express in words, but during a Story Massage session, children melt into the chairs and listen to ways they can deal with their feelings” explain Melissa and Una. “We use different books and adapt them using the Story Massage strokes so the children can actually ‘feel’ the words. Some of the children may have been sitting under a table or having a meltdown to prior the lesson. But after hearing a story and then ‘feeling’ the words they become calm and connected within their own body.”

Mental Processing

The Story Massage Programme encourages mental processing of visual, auditory and kinaesthetic information in the brain. Children watch, listen and then copy each massage stroke. It can be used as an assessment tool as it clearly shows when children are struggling with using right and left sides of their brain and body together. As it is such a visual activity our EAL (English as an Additional Language) children can take part and begin to learn the language of the strokes – such as The Circle or The Wave.

Positive Relationships

The shared experience of positive touch through Story Massage helps build trust with adults and develop friendships among peers. One child with ADHD was very argumentative and found it hard to communicate positively. But he has really taken to Story Massage and it has given him a way to calm himself and show ‘kind hands’ to his friends. He now asks his peers if they would like a massage story outside in the yard. Some children have given a massage story to their parents or guardians – and even their dogs!

More about Story Massage

Story Massage combines positive touch with the fun and creativity of storytelling. Ten simple massage strokes form the basis of the Story Massage programme. These strokes have a name, such as The Circle or The Sprinkle, and an easy to recognise symbol making it accessible for all. It is a fully inclusive activity. No clothing is removed and no oil is used.

Would you like to train in Story Massage?

Are you looking for ideas for your emotional and well-being curriculum? We run a one day accredited training course held around the country for individuals and groups. These days can also be organised as in-house training sessions.  And we also have a new online training option.

We teach you how to share the ten Story Massage strokes and work with you to adapt familiar stories and even create some sensory stories of your own. Ideal for well-being coaches, therapists, teachers, SEN staff, support staff, Early Years practitioners, those working with people with additional needs, everyone with an interest in sharing positive touch activities with adults or children. All the information is here: Story Massage Training

The post Positive Touch and the Emotional and Well-Being Curriculum appeared first on Story Massage.

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Have you trained in the Story Massage Programme – either face-to-face or online? Do join us for our first ever Story Massage Conference to be held in London on Saturday 11th May 2019. There’s an amazing line-up of speakers and workshops with a chance to ask questions to our expert panel. What a brilliant opportunity to meet others, feel inspired and learn new skills.

Date: Saturday 11th May 2019

Time: 9.30 – 4.00

Cost: £95

Venue: The Arc Centre, 98b St Paul Street, London N1 7DF (closest tube station is Angel on the Northern Line)

Open: to people who have trained in the Story Massage Programme (with the option of bringing a paying guest)

To book your place: email conference@storymassage.co.uk 

Conference programme Morning presentations:
  • Using Meditation Skills with Story Massage

Lorraine E Murray will explain how creating simple meditation ‘stories’ (guided visualisations) can combine with positive touch activities. Lorraine will offer practical tips and advice from her experience with children (toddlers to teens) and adults with/without additional support needs.

  • Creating a Safe Environment for Story Massage

Vicky Mulholland will discuss the importance of working with trauma informed practice across all sectors to ensure a safe and supportive environment. Vicky will also explain the benefits of the Story Massage Programme in language development particularly for those with speech, language and communication needs.

Afternoon Workshops:

You have a choice of two workshops (see below).

  • Enhancing the Benefits for Babies and Toddlers

Tracey Allport will look at the benefits of the Story Massage Programme for babies and families. She will share some of her own experiences of using it as a follow-on class from baby massage sessions. She will discuss themes, stories and techniques that work best for this age group.

  • Mindfulness and Story Massage

Lorraine E. Murray will run an introductory workshop explaining how simple mindfulness techniques can work alongside Story Massage sessions. She will give you tips on how to boost your creativity and help you choose stories and ideas that work with the individual needs of children or adults.

  •  Creating Sensoryscapes

Caroline Hill will run a practical workshop to guide you through the process of adding sensory activities to a massage story. She will share ideas for using aromas, objects and affordable craft items to add a new dimension to positive touch activities.

  • Writing Massage Stories for Difficult Situations

Hazel Cunningham and Vicky Mulholland will explore the possibilities of creating massage stories specifically to help cope with difficult emotions or to prepare for difficult situations. They will use their own experiences to help you develop your practice and offer suggestions for encouraging children or adults to write their own massage stories.

Meet Our Expert Panel:

Sophie Kidd-Munnery – Full time mother of Maisy (who has PMLD) and Poppy.

Hazel Cunningham – Nurture practitioner and Relax Kids Coach

Lorraine Murray – Meditation and Mindfulness Teacher and Author

Vicky Mulholland – Speech and Language Therapist and Relax Kids Coach

Tracey Allport – Occupational Therapist and Baby Massage Instructor

Caroline Hill – Qualified teacher working with young people and adults with profound and complex disabilities and difficulties.

Book your place now!

Email conference@storymassage.co.uk for more details.

The post Story Massage Conference 2019 – Inspiration and Ideas! appeared first on Story Massage.

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We are looking forward to a wonderful day sharing the Story Massage Programme in Guiliana Wheater’s magical chalet in Porlock Hill, Somerset on 27th July 2019. This FHT accredited CPD day course is open to everyone interested in sharing positive touch activities with children and adults of all ages and abilities.  

Date: Saturday 27th July 2019.

Time: 9.45 (for a prompt start at 10.00) – 16.00

Venue: The Therapy Chalet, Porlock Hill, Somerset

Course Fee: £149 (includes handouts, certificate and refreshments)

To book your place: For a booking form, payment options and more details contact Mary Atkinson on info@storymassage.co.uk

Facilitator: Mary Atkinson is an experienced massage therapist with a wealth of experience in using positive touch activities in the home, school and wider community. She is co-founder of the Story Programme Massage and co-author of the popular Story Massage book and DVD Once Upon a Touch…Story Massage for Children.

Course content: Ten simple massage strokes form the basis of the Story Massage training day and book. You will learn these strokes and then we will work together to adapt familiar stories or even create some massage stories of your own to use in the home, school, or as part of your work. This will help build your confidence with using story massage in the way that most suits you. During the day there will be opportunities to ask questions and share ideas with others. It is fun and interactive, just like the Story Massage Programme.

Practicalities: You do not need to bring anything except a pen and paper.

**** Book now as this is likely to be very popular. You will have the added bonus of meeting Guiliana Wheater, author of Indian Head Massage for Special Needs and founder of The Rainbow Kids Touch Therapy and Relaxation Instructor Course. ****

Where can you use Story Massage?

The course is open to everyone with an interest in positive touch activities for children and adults. Suitable for therapists, teachers, special needs teachers, teaching assistants, care workers, parents, grandparents and anyone wishing to introduce the benefits of positive touch.

The Story Massage Programme is a wonderful extension of your current work, and depending on your qualifications and experience, it can be used:

  • In nurseries, schools, special schools, afterschool clubs, youth groups
  • In baby and infant massage or reflexology classes
  • In hospices, hospitals and care homes (can be used for people with dementia)
  • For children with special physical, emotional or educational needs
  • With adoptive and foster parents
  • In the family home
  • In art, drama, music and yoga classes
  • For teaching languages

BOOK NOW FOR THE STORY MASSAGE TRAINING DAY IN PORLOCK!

Please email Mary Atkinson on info@storymassage.co.uk for a booking form and payment options.

“The creative/literacy benefits for the children are limitless. We can easily link Story Massage into our topic and curriculum as a whole school approach. Giving a child the option to write a massage story also takes away any possible exclusion from the session if the child does not want to be touched either through peer massage or self-massage.” Hazel Cunningham, Independent Nurture Practitioner

“The Story Massage Programme is so, so important and so, so needed and the children loveee it too! Supporting their relaxation, touch tolerance, emotional regulation, increased concentration, better sleep and social connection.” Kirsty Forsyth, Relax Kids Coach

“Story Massage can offer comfort and relaxation for my foster children. One lad had been through terrible, sustained trauma. I wrote a bedtime massage story with the theme of safety and security and it was beautiful to see how his whole body and mind relaxed during his stay.” Aly Townley, Foster Carer

The post Story Massage Training Day in Beautiful Exmoor appeared first on Story Massage.

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