AWARE & Joel M announce winners of ‘Express Yourself’ Children’s Mental Health Poetry Competition!

AWARE & Joel M announce winners of ‘Express Yourself’ Children’s Mental Health Poetry Competition!

Published on Wednesday, 07 April 2021

Posted in News

We are delighted to announce the winners of our recent children’s mental health poetry competition, ‘Express Yourself’, which we launched over Children’s Mental Health Week in February of this year. All primary schools in Northern Ireland were invited to take part and over 180 schools entered!

Team AWARE, along with our friend and Tik Tok star Joel M, have absolutely loved reading all of the poems and we’d thank to thank all participating pupils and teachers for taking part. We hope everyone enjoyed the competition as much as we did. We’d like to congratulate all the children for expressing themselves so creatively and starting important conversations about mental health! 

Joel M has picked the top 3 poems and the winners are…(click to read the poems)

1st Prize: 'Feel the Changes' by Ellie Kitson, Carniny Primary School, Ballymena

2nd Prize: ‘The Dragon’ by Joshua Dillon, Dromore Central Primary School

3rd Prize: 'Feel the Feelings’ by Ross Lappin, St Mary's Primary School, Granemore

Well done! The winning poets have won free mindfulness courses for their classes as well as Amazon vouchers and lots of ‘Express Yourself’ mental health merchandise!

Joel M, star magician said,

“I was so moved by all the poems that were submitted, but I found myself returning to Ellie’s, Ross’ and Joshua’s poems time and time again. I felt Joshua captured a sense of what has been lost during this past year and I loved the imagery he conjured up of a dragon to describe the overbearing power of the sense of loss. I thought Ellie’s poem was hopeful in the way that it described the journey of her life, and ushered the reader to feel compelled to see these new challenges just as they might see past ones; the walk is in the raising of the foot as in the laying of it down. I thought the advice in Ross’ poem was incredibly solid advice, akin to the advice a professional might give, to go with the flow, to let the feelings of doubt or uncertainty in for sure, but to then acknowledge and accept them and move on.

Overall, I think the bridge between all three poems is the sense of hope. The sense that it’s completely normal to feel downtrodden by the dragon, or ambushed by loss or scared of new feelings, but once you can accept these feelings and go with the flow and be mindful of how you and others might feel, then there is most certainly hope. I hope these poems and this competition more broadly has helped to encourage children to speak about what might be on their minds, and I hope they know it’s safe to do so. On a wider level, I really do hope this competition by AWARE has helped to promote and encourage the discussion of mental health in primary schools in Northern Ireland.”

The aim behind this campaign was to encourage children to open up about what is going on inside their minds and express any fears, worries or feelings of loneliness they might struggle with, particularly after a difficult year in lockdown.

We wanted to allow them the opportunity to express themselves and hopefully feel a weight lifted once they had shared their thoughts and feelings with people they knew loved them and could be trusted.

We're turning the Top 10 poems into a children's mental health book with special resources and advice from AWARE. ALL participating schools will receive a copy of this as well as participation certificates!