More than 500 worry dolls created for Strathburn pupils
Strathburn School in Inverurie are showing off their worry dolls and highlighting the importance of health and wellbeing in their everyday.
The toys were hand-knitted by a collection of staff members, parents and even parents of teachers for more than 460 pupils during the first lockdown in 2020.
The thinking was to encourage children to share any concerns they had and remind them they still had the support of their school community. Staff members delivered the worry dolls on their daily walks and soon everyone was looking forward to the day theirs would arrive.
Since that time every new pupil to the school has been provided with their own worry doll. They are also preparing for a new cohort of Primary 1s and the intention is to continue handing these out in years to come.
To date, more than 500 worry dolls have been lovingly created, with the mum of one staff member contributing around 200.
The staff team at Strathburn realised that the one certainty for some children is going to school, and that quickly changed. They were all in a situation they had not experienced before and looked around for ideas as to how they could support children. That’s when they came across the concept of worry dolls.
Head teacher Barbara Milne wrote a poem to go to the children’s homes with the worry dolls and read the story ‘Silly Billy’ to pupils which is about a doll who takes away children’s worries during the night while they are sleeping.
She explained: “Talking to a worry doll can make it easier to share a concern with another person and we have had great feedback from parents who have said how the dolls help to encourage their children to open up.
“Each doll is completely unique and we hope they are also a good reminder that there is always someone from school who can help and support families too.
“Wellbeing is our first priority because this enables young people to access learning and realise their full potential. Nurture is fundamental to what we do as a school and this is about supporting families, as well as children, to thrive.”
Barbara added: “I’m really proud of our whole school and wider community and how well everybody has come together through difficult times.”
The worry dolls have been so well-received, Aberdeenshire Council’s educational psychologists heard about them anecdotally via their helpline, with feedback from struggling parents who explained how much of a comfort they had been.
Head of Education Vincent Docherty said: “Our psychologists are very impressed by the positive impact Strathburn have made here and I absolutely share that enthusiasm.”
As well as submitting a worry doll for inclusion in a time capsule project which will see their lockdown memories saved for future generations, Strathburn’s classes are considering what else they plan to include.