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Super West Lothian teens team up with Buddy Bear

A group of inspiring local teenagers are the first to be trained to deliver a superhero-themed anti-bullying campaign to promote kindness and friendship to children in West Lothian.

The exciting initiative saw children's superhero Buddy Bear fly into Whitdale Primary School together with the teens to help the young children in primary one and two discover their inner superhero.

The pilot was the culmination of a personal development programme led by Gena McMullan, and commissioned by West Lothian Council to support teenagers to build their confidence and employability skills. The opportunity not only allows them to make a positive difference to the lives of children, but also helps to build invaluable skills and experiences that are transferrable to their own future careers and endeavours.

The pioneering idea to have teens delivering Buddy Bear Friends was supported by Dawn Roden, CLD Youth Services Team Leader, Education Services MCMC Team, WLC who said:

"The buddy bear pilot has had a wonderful impact on the teenagers who took part. By incorporating buddy bear into their experience, the young people got to challenge themselves and push themselves further.  While they were learning techniques to use in their own lives and future careers, they also got to practice these techniques during the Buddy Bear session.  The Buddy Bear session brought them together as a group and they worked brilliantly as a team."

Gena McMullan commented "it's been incredible to support these amazing teens and watch their confidence grow throughout the course. They have become positive role models and to see them engaging so well with the young children was really inspiring.  There is so much potential here to support both children and young people, and we'd love to see Buddy Bear's mission expand across West Lothian and beyond led by young people. 

The six participants of the project - Barry, Becky, Emma, Harvey, Nathan and Nevis - delivered workshops based around the Buddy Bear superhero motto, 'KAPAW!' (Kindness, Action, Play, Ask, Wellbeing), to provide a step-by-step method of nurturing friendships, wellbeing and learning powers. By teaching these important superpowers to children in their early formative years the Buddy Bear Friends programme aims to prevent bullying and improve mental health and wellbeing in schools across Scotland.

Commenting on the experience of delivering Buddy Bear Friends workshops to the young children, one of the participating teens, Barry said: "It's a big responsibility to do something like that and you feel tons of emotions, but it's a lot, lot better than you actually expect... it was a perfect experience for me, it was just great." Barry has since decided to pursue childcare as a career path.

Buddy Bear Friends is a fun and educational programme of workshops, classroom resources and activities. The creative idea originated from a storybook written by a group of teenagers who had all experienced bullying and wanted to prevent others from the devastating impacts of this.