Nearly 300 primary school age children from across the county attended a special event to boost their mental health and wellbeing at Buckfast Abbey.

The Take5 Festival on the 26th May, created by the Abbey’s Education Department, saw hundreds of key stage 2 pupils visit the beautiful Abbey and benefit from a series of fun, practical and engaging workshops focusing on emotional, physical, spiritual and mental health.

During the day, pupils participated in three workshops which included a physical, reflective, and craft-based activity such as Taiko drumming, walking a prayerful labyrinth, kite making, Forest Chi, walking with gentle therapy alpacas and making wristbands to help children explore their emotions and learn how to deal with them.

Alison Gagg, Education Manager at the Abbey, said: “This year’s Festival was a particularly exciting one for the Education Department as it was the first multi-school event that we’ve been able to host since December 2019.

“It was delightful to see so many children at the Abbey again, bringing with them such a lot of energy and excitement. Their teachers were also full of praise about the event, with many of them asking to secure their space for next year before the day was even over.”

“One teacher said, “I simply can’t express how much this day has benefitted my pupils. I think we will be feeling the effects of this for a long time”. Whereas one of their pupils put it more simply saying, “I liked being able to think about my feelings and stuff.”

Led by the Abbey’s experts in children’s wellbeing the Take5 Festival is based around the five actions that promote wellbeing, which are ‘give’, ‘take notice’, ‘learn and create’, ‘be active’, and ‘connect’.

The Abbey received a staggering level of interest from primary schools in Devon wishing to attend this year’s event and places were allocated on a first-come-first served basis. The schools who were unsuccessful in securing a place for this year’s Festival have been added to a list for next year’s event.

Alison concluded: “It’s easy to forget how difficult the past couple of years have been for school children, with the impacts of Covid being the cause of many new anxieties and worries. It’s really important that we continue to support schools in their provision for children’s general wellbeing. We hope to continue running the Festival for many years to come, alongside setting up smaller, individual wellbeing workshops throughout the year.”

Buckfast Abbey’s Education Team engages with approximately 10,000 children per year and in addition to hosting regular school visits, the Education Department will welcome 4Front Theatre Company for their hilarious theatre production of ‘Fishermen’s Tail’ on Thursday 7th and Friday 8th July. The production is an exciting show about Jesus and his disciples on the Sea of Galilee and will take place at Buckfast Abbey. Suitable for all primary school children, schools can book by contacting education@buckfast.org.uk.