Child Poverty

The purpose of this session was for the Imagineers  to share key messages from the investigations they believe children need addressed by adults to tackle the impact of poverty.

Two of our Champions, Tracy Davis (Child Health Commissioner – NHS Grampian) and Alison Cameron (Partnership Project Development Manager – Unicef Child Friendly Cities Aberdeen)  were invited to listen to the children and discuss their ideas for how this could be made possible for every child in Aberdeen.

Equality and Equity: A Discussion About Fairness

This session is concerned with introducing children to the concept of equity. We start from a discussion about fairness and we move towards our places of learning – when/ where do we feel welcome and treated fairly. What are the barriers that can get in the way of this happening? 

This is The Imagineers map of “Fairness Island” a place where all children are treated fairly and feel welcome.


The purpose of this session was for the Imagineers to begin to think about what helps them and other children to learn and things that might get in the way of a child being able to learn.

Things they identified that help children learn:

“Learning in an exciting and inspiring way.”

“Getting lots of friends that support you.”

“Getting brain breaks.”

Things that might get in the way:

“Bullies who lower your confidence and affect people’s learning”

“Not getting enough sleep”

“A strict teacher that lowers confidence”

From Primary To Secondary

During the summer break Imagineers who are making the “leap” from primary school to secondary school met up to discuss the transition.

The purpose of the session was to get the children to think about the skills and qualities they have learned at primary school and what they will be talking with them into secondary school.

It also allowed them to discuss ways that the school make them feel welcome and talk about any worries they wanted to share about starting secondary.

“We made cool frog hats, jumped across Lillie pads thinking about what we are looking forward to and worried about going to Northfield, and thinking about how some things in primary that we will take to Northfield”

“It was fun being frogs, we spoke about going to academy, skills and qualities we will bring with us to academy.”

“It was good when we wrote down our worries on Lillie pads, I liked scrunching them up because it was therapeutic.”

“I liked that we all took part in the activity today. It was fun when we played together at the park.”

Our Joyful School

 In the original Imagining Aberdeen mural, the Imagineers created a Joyful School. In the school there are lots of opportunities to do art, yoga and music. The children are reading books. There are tablets to help them do work. Children are good at maths and the teacher says ‘well done!’ and rewards them with trips. Children and adults speak many different languages and everyone gets along. The boy says to the girl: ‘I will always look out for you.’ In the school things get fixed when they are broken. Near the school there are things to do. Children go swimming, there are places to feel free and relax. A man hands out fruit for all the children.

As part of their investigation into Doing Our Best, the children revisited their vision for a joyful school and discussed what is missing and what every school in Aberdeen needs to become a space where all children feel they belong and are able to do their best.

‘In a joyful school there would be Circle Time at the beginning and end of day to say how you feel. People in the circle will be people you trust.’

‘You would know that you have something that day you really want to do. Everyone would join in with the activities – nobody feels unwanted or left out.’

‘There would be buddies – older children helping younger children. [When you are a buddy it] makes you happy because you are making someone else happy and younger children know who to go to.’

In the school children are ‘inventing things and imagining games with friends at break and golden time. In class there is creative writing and people focus on imagination and not just equations and winning’. 

‘Teachers would ask about your weekends – so they know you and you know that you have someone that will listen to you.’

‘Teachers would help you when you are stuck and explain things to you without telling you the answer.’

The teacher is someone ‘you can have a laugh with, that will make you feel safe. Then if you haven’t done your homework or forgotten it you won’t worry about telling them. A joyful teacher should say “you can have another day or two to finish it”.

‘Children and adults help each other and are able to put smiles on everyone’s face.’

‘Adults don’t shout or boss people. If you shout at people you might hurt their ears and make them sad.’

‘Children shouldn’t have to take breaks by pretending to go to the toilet’, in a joyful school there is ‘a break room with bean bags or children can go for a walk. The teacher should say go and have some time when children need it.’


Bag of Worries

The purpose of this session is to consider how children can share their worries and find out what relationships can support them to do this. Alison and Zoe joined the children. They are both working on turning Aberdeen into a Unicef Child Friendly City. 

Key messages: 

  • Knowing someone is there for you makes you feel better when things are hard. Adults should tell children they are there for them.”
  • “When someone is sad, teachers should notice and see if something is wrong. They should look out for children who have their head on the table or children not doing their work.”
  • “If a child is angry, they should be able to tell the teacher how they are feeling and say I might be angry today.”

Adults that children can go to if they have a worry: PSAs, teachers, auntie, brothers and sisters, grandma, parents and carers, social worker, Childline, babysitters, friends, police and your dog. The person has to be decent and reasonable person, someone you know and trust.

Worries a child might have How to make things better for the child

Messing Up Always start in pencil, try your best, do your best to work in a team.

Mum and Dad splitting up Ask an adult to talk to your mum and dad. Ask the adult to tell your mum and dad that your child is worried about them.

Natural Disasters Reassure the child by telling them they are rare. Go do hobbies to get your mind of it.

School Ask a teacher for help. Tell your parents

Loneliness Get a parent or teacher to talk to you and help out. Remind the child that they are NEVER alone. Just take a shot at it and try to meet people.

Moving School Talk to an adult, as an adult can reassure the child. Share your worry. Talk to someone at school and see if they can give you a buddy to talk to.

Being Scared Find someone who knows its alright. Speak to a trusted adult or friend or phone a help line.  Ask to go to a different class or a concentration station.

Having to go to guides Speak to someone, think positive, take a friend with you to guides and test it out.

Becoming Homeless Tell someone. Speak to a teacher. Ask your parent or carer to find work.

Nobody loves you Try to find friends and tell your teacher. Join in games to try and make friends.

The Thriving and Surviving Child

The Imagineers have been linking emotions with behaviour and thinking about what can be done to help children manage stress. 

Key messages

  • Behaviour is communication. Adults need to understand us instead of punishing us when we are not coping.
  • Self-harming behaviour is more than cutting yourself – damaging relationships, getting into fights, not doing well at/ or not attending school.

The Thriving Child

Feels: Happy, nice, good, wonderful, lucky, fit, healthy, good about themselves, grateful, loved, excited, confident and understood.

Thinks: Positively. I am going to do well in life. I am amazing.

Sensations in their body: skips, wakes up happy, smiles, calm, heart beating normally, chilled and open.

Behaves: Calm, cool, kind, caring, helpful, nice, do what you are told, you listen, pay attention, good at home and in school, talks to people, plays and has good relationships.

The Surviving Child

Feels: Sad, alone, frustrated, depressed, lonely, sick, low confidence, worried, stressed, useless, scared, hurt, anxious, not coping, angry, upset, nervous, confused, worthless, ashamed, overthinking.

Thinks: Badly about themselves. I hate myself. I hate school. I am terrible. Too much on their mind. Sick thought like kill everyone. I want to run away. Start dissing yourself due to low confidence. I’m worthless.

Sensations in their body: slow to think and act, body isn’t work properly, not enough sleep, cry, clenched fists, red face, low energy, tired, can’t concentrate, rage, tense, tired and in hibernation mode, close up.

Behaves: Doesn’t trust people, might steal, self-harm, join gangs, hurt people, swear, getting into trouble, sleeping lots, getting angry at people, bad, out of order, play up and acts differently from their normal self.