Giggle Together at Alec Hunter Humanities College!

Our Giggle Together workshop had a good trial run today as we took part in the Alec Hunter Humanities College Skills day. Year 8 students spent the morning attending workshops on all sorts of subjects to do with Possitive Emotional Health including EYPDAS for Drug and Alcohol Awareness, Smoking, confidence building, Yoga to name just a few. We provided the laughter.
We delivered 4, one hour sessions working with different form groups of the year. What was interesting to me was the difference in reactions to our workshop within this year group. They were all the same age group but I noticed each form reacting different. Of course when you are willing to stand in front of a group of 12-13 year olds and blow raspberries, you do expect some strange looks. I had thought this would be dependant on age.
Our “stiff upper lip” persona certainly starts in secondary education with our strict rules and no-nonsense education system. There is no room for play. It was surprising to see just how results driven our young people are – even when playing.
Our workshop is all about play, being silly but with boundaries. It is great as a stress reliever and can often bring a group together. There were some “too cool for school” characters of course. My teenager inside started to surface for a second to sap away any confidence I had but the big girl in me was quick to get back in the driver’s seat. Going back to school as an adult is just as scary as it was when you were 12-13 if you allow yourself to go shooting back in time.
Now that I’m a big girl I have much more confidence. I have more of a “bring it on” attitude which is why I will blow raspberries at a class of 25 year 8 students to get their attention. After years as a Youth Worker, and having been a teenager myself, your best defense to those who want to shock you is to out-shock them.
So while I was laughing, then coughing up because I had a chest infection, then laughing some more – the groups got carried away with me. All managed to get into it except the last. The Drama Teacher who was helping me out during the session was also the form tutor to the last group. They found the whole thing way off anything they had done before. The teacher told me that his form were the ones that other teachers loved to have. They were the smart kids. A room full of left brain dominated young people trying to take part in a very right brain dominated workshop.
They made comments like, “well that’s not what my laugh sounds like,” “but it’s just not funny” when doing the laughter exercises that concentrate on the process of laughter and what your body does with each laugh. It’s a way to allow yourself to generate laughter without the need for an outside source. They didn’t understand because they all thought more literally. They reminded me of Jamie – my Autistic son. In the end I had to show them. I took a deep breath and laughed my breath out until I had no more breath, then carried on taking short breaths to keep it going. After about a minute I stopped, took a deep breath, looked at the students all staring at me aghast and said, “do you get it now?”. Finally they found this funny and were able to laugh.
I explained to them why they found it so hard – especially as their form tutor was embarrassed and kept telling them to stop showing him up. What it did in fact was illustrate the point beautifully about the left and right side of the brain.
I loved the day – even though I was ill it was amazing! I felt a real Buzz when I left and realised just how good for me – and for everyone – this kind of activity is. We’ll do far more good developing our programmes than we could with any other project.
I also heard on the grapevine from an EYPDAS worker that the students had really loved it too!

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