Last week we delivered our first Empathy Lightbulbs session with a whole Year 10 year group in Yorkshire.
It didn’t feel like the first session, but it was.
We started in the Hall with the entire year group with a shortened keynote about domestic abuse and how it often – similar to what happened to my sister under the abusive reign of Ian Hope – begins with language and verbal abuse, then control and can spiral towards an ultimate tragedy.
I shared the continuum of control and abuse and gave the mixed year group three things to focus on when they returned to their tutor groups for 70 minutes:
1. Language and how it is used to divide, vilify and abuse others.
2. Sexism, masculinity and what modern masculinity looks like – and what it could look like.
3. A Charter of Respectful Conduct – tutor groups were asked to draw up a list of behaviours, attitudes and approaches which would lead to more respect and kindness.
WOW! The three sessions – prompted by starter videos from us – yielded some incredible results. On returning to the Hall we reflected on each of the points raised by the starter questions and the debate was moving and affected the whole room. Students were fully invested in each group’s feedback and, running out of time, the reflections on the Charter and what they thought were important.
Boys and girls, empowered by the sessions and the atmosphere of support, stood up to represent their groups and decided that these were some of the factors which should form their Charter Of Respectful Conduct:
– Friends Fulfil Friendship
– Real Friends Don’t Let Friends Discriminate.
We left the school with the echoes of Year 10s still discussing the session, embracing the leadership they’d given themselves permission to exhibit, teachers smiling and a handshake from the Principal saying he’d spoken to teachers and students who were all moved by the sessions – “we’ll be seeing you again” was the final thing I heard as I left the school.
The kids are alright you know? With some empathetic guidance and support, they’re going to be alright.
The entire Empathy Lightbulbs programme is flexible and can be built around your needs and the time available – it can also be delivered virtually with back up materials and video content.