A recent study has found that 88 per cent of young people in Britain today say they ‘lack confidence and doubt they will succeed in life’, proving that self-confidence is fundamentally missing from our schools’ syllabus. However, a new project is changing this one school at a time. Led by Alison Delaney, an author, motivational speaker, and founder of the Little Bird project, the programme has already been implemented in eight UK schools this year. What’s more, Little Bird has already started to make a global impact with schools in Europe and Africa also participating.
Over 2,000 children have already benefited from the specialist syllabus. Using Alison’s book and an accompanying Dreams Workshop, Little Bird is teaching children that they can make their dreams a reality. The schools taking part have each enhanced their literacy programmes with the addition of ‘Little Chick Has Lunch On The Moon’ and have hosted the complementary workshop, entitled ‘A World of Possibilities’. Building on the book’s key messages, the programme develops an empowering environment that enables the Little Chicks taking part to be the very best they can be.
Speaking about how Little Bird began, Alison commented:
“My background is in Neurolinguistic Programming and Behavioural and Cultural change, and I have spent the last two decades in learning and development roles for notable companies. During this time, I’ve noticed that the limiting beliefs that we carry as adults are mostly embedded during our formative years. I realised that if we are going to successfully raise compassionate and resourceful children, it is our duty to give them the self-confidence to cope with the challenges and opportunities that are ahead of them. The Little Bird project does this, encouraging children through play: these children are guided in discussions about their dreams, encouraged to write and illustrate their aspirations, and helped to discover and celebrate their talents.”
So far, Chantlers Primary School, Yorkswood Primary School, Audley Primary School, Timberley Academy, Brownmead Primary Academy, Our Ladys Catholic Primary School, St. Fagans C W Primary School, and Great Ponton Primary School have all proved that they are singing from the Little Bird song-sheet; and in January 2017, Coleshill Heath Primary School will be joining the project too.
The project has also attracted corporate sponsorship and community partnerships. It already has the backing of big names, including Birmingham Airport and Turkish Airlines and is excited to be working with Unity Trust. All have helped bring the scheme to fruition, showing their conviction in supplying the foundations for self-belief, confidence, resilience and always holding on to your dreams.
In addition, the support from each of the sponsors has not only benefited the UK schools, but has equally allowed for the gift of learning to be delivered to children across the globe. For each child who has received the book in a British school, another copy is gifted to a less-fortunate child in another school somewhere else in the world. Encouraging global connectivity and knowledge sharing, the project aims to twin schools and enable the exchange of written messages, take part in video calls, and build long-lasting relationships.
Earlier this year, this model was successfully piloted in South Africa. Alison and her team, including Chantlers Primary School’s Head Teacher Phillip Barlow and BAFTA award-winning director Mandy Temple, visited the country in October, holding Dreams Workshops in schools in Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Port Elizabeth. 1,000 books made the 10,000-mile journey across the globe, each complete with an illustrated note of hope from children in the UK. The books were then hand-delivered by Alison to pupils at Mitchell’s Plain Primary School, Nooitgedacht Primary School, and Rufane Donkin Primary School, with the recipients giving hand-written postcards to Alison to bring back for their new pen-pals.
At the heart of Little Bird lies the desire to help children, which has led to donations being made throughout the year to worthy causes. Alison and her team have delivered books to St. Peter’s Church of England in Witherley, where Alison went to school as a child. She has also gifted books to Birmingham Children’s Hospital, recruiting the help of special guest Santa Claus, and writing personalised messages to the children and their families. In the new year, Alison hopes to develop this and donate books to the Help Harry Help Others charity and the Make A Wish foundation.
“For all of us at Little Bird, there is nothing more important than encouraging young people to reach their full potential. To be part of their journeys and to watch these resilient children from all walks of life overcome their obstacles is both humbling and inspiring. The best part is that this is only the beginning: we cannot wait to continue to grow and help so many more children,” added Alison.