- MELVA supports children at a developmentally critical age to teach meaningful wellbeing strategies and develop emotional resilience
- Mortal Fools has teamed up with North of Tyne Combined Authority to give 50 schools across Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland free access to the 2023/2024 MELVA programme
- Eligible schools are encouraged to apply to tackle the growing mental health crisis among young people, in which an average of 5 children per classroom are likely to have a diagnosable mental health condition
A new partnership between a local creative intervention programme and the North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA) aims to support the mental health of children across Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland.
Award-winning theatre, drama and creative learning charity Mortal Fools will work with NTCA to offer its specially developed creative intervention programme MELVA free of charge to 50 schools across the area for the 2023/2024 period, providing vital support at a time when at least 1 in 6 children aged 7-16 are likely to have a diagnosable mental health condition – an average of 5 children per classroom.
Designed in response to the nationwide children’s mental health crisis and the 2017 green paper ‘Transforming children and young people’s mental health provision’, MELVA is a creative intervention programme for key stage two children (ages 7-11), their teachers and families. Initially created as a live performance package, the MELVA programme has since been developed into a digital resource to support young people across the whole of the UK.
Comprising of a series of animations, a feature film split into episodes as well as an interactive choose-your-own-adventure game – all three elements are designed to go hand in hand with lesson plans and classroom resources. The MELVA intervention follows the adventures of Melva Mapletree, a young girl who navigates a set of challenges as she learns to recognise, understand and manage her ‘worrits’ – what she calls those niggling worries and concerns that can be difficult for children to identify.
Usually a chargeable web-based creative programme available through annual licences, MELVA is designed to be led by teaching staff in schools, taking children through a fun and creative story-based programme designed to help them better understand and manage their emotions and mental wellbeing.
Schools that participate in the NTCA scheme will have access to the programme from October 2023 until August 2024, including a unique school login for the full MELVA online portal, a bank of extension activities and themed assemblies, a dedicated MELVA Teacher Area and evaluation reports.
Eligible schools are encouraged to apply, and successful applicants will also be eligible for discounted renewal rates for 2024/2025. In addition, schools undertaking the Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools Award can use the completion of the MELVA programme as part of their evidence portfolio.
By providing this programme free to 50 of the region’s schools, both Mortal Fools and NTCA hope to tackle the current national mental health crisis amongst children and young people.
Kiz Crosbie, CEO of Mortal Fools, commented: “We are delighted to be working with North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA) for our Melva programme 2023-24. Both Mortal Fools and NTCA are committed to finding innovative ways to tackle the national mental health crisis amongst children and young people, including practical support for teachers.
The funding support NTCA have provided enables us to make the Melva programme available free of charge to 50 schools in Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland – putting these important resources into the lives of thousands of North East children when the world is such a challenging place.”
Cllr Karen Kilgour, NTCA Cabinet Member for Education, Inclusion and Skills said: “School disruption due to COVID-19 has had significant impact on pupil’s academic achievement and is set to have a long tail of mental health repercussions. Evidence tells us that pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds are disproportionately affected.
“At the North of Tyne Combined Authority, we are delighted to be working in partnership with award winning theatre, drama and creative learning charity, Mortal Fools to deliver MELVA.
“This creative approach to mental health and wellbeing, will support our region’s children to develop resilience pathways and positive emotional responses and relationships.”
For more information on the MELVA programme visit www.melva.org.uk.
To find out more about how your school can get involved and to download the expression of interest form, visit: https://melva.org.uk/north-of-tyne/