“It was the best big box and the best big surprise"

29th July 2021

For the past 4 years, I have partnered with St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church to run a prayer space for the pupils of Clandeboye Primary School, Bangor, Northern Ireland as part of their RE curriculum. We had seen God do amazing things over the past 4 years particularly around bringing a sense of peace and calm to the pupils and the school so we were determined not to miss out on running a prayer space this year although we knew it would be dramatically different.

Visitors were not allowed in the school and there were so many restrictions around sharing of resources it was difficult to imagine how this could happen. But we knew that the prayer space would not only support the RE curriculum but also support the mental health of pupils and the recovery curriculum, allowing pupils space to think and process the disruption and loss from this past year and so ‘prayer space in a box’ was formed.

With the help of the resources on the prayer spaces in schools website and the support of Emma Thompson (Prayer Spaces in Schools Ireland Worker), we got to work writing and designing a lesson plan full of different activities for the whole school. Minister Mark, Assistant Minister Taglé and myself recorded a video to explain the prayer space in a box and to introduce each activity.

In the box was all the resources for the activities including feedback sheets and a lesson plan and each pupil had their own little bag that included all their resources and a little packet of sweets as a gift from the church.

We made 2 versions of the lesson, one for P1 & P2 and then one for P3 to P7 with 6 activities for the classes to work through. These activities included opportunities for pupils to be thankful, to think of others, to recognise how special they are, to dream big, to think about their school family, to process their feelings and to be still and the activities involved drawing, writing, talking with their class, silence and tying ribbons.

Watch the P1 to P2 lesson here.

Watch the P3 to P7 lesson here.

Whilst nothing beats face to face interaction with children and young people we have been so encouraged by the response of the pupils and staff in the school.  Here are some things the pupils said,

“I’ve learnt that prayer doesn’t have to be formal, it can be anywhere” (P7 pupil)

“The prayer space made me feel relaxed” (P2 pupil)

“The prayer space helped me to think, or it gave me time to think” (P4 pupil)

“I’ve learnt that my feelings are valid” (P7 pupil)

The highlight for me was hearing about one little girl who loved the prayer space so much, she wouldn’t put her little bag down for the rest of the day. She held on to it tightly, carried it home and carried it all around her house. There also continued to be overwhelming feedback of the peace and calm that a prayer space brings to the class which is a real highlight as it is something that we have seen grow each year through the use of Prayer Spaces.

“We cannot thank you all enough. Prayer space is incredible and so beneficial. Thank you all very much” (P1 Teacher)

It is such a privilege to be a part of a prayer space and I am so thankful that I get to be a part of it each year. I am praying more schools in my local area will say yes to having an in-person prayer space or a prayer space in a box!