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Championing healthy relationships

and sexual wellbeing

Shifting gears: creativity in lockdown in the UK

Previously a teacher for 15 years, Rachel Burnell is the schools work educator for RSE at Crossway Pregnancy Crisis Centre; the employed youth team leader for a local church; and very active member of the Esteem network. A true RSE champion!

The spring and summer terms should have been a busy teaching time for Crossway but, as many local schools did not deliver lessons by video conferencing during lockdown, Rachel had to quickly shift gears! One well-received idea was the sending of physical resources to the more vulnerable students and children of keyworkers who were still in school. This included self-care and emotional wellbeing gift bags which contained self-esteem worksheets and some pampering items.

In her role as church children and youth team leader, Rachel has run activities via Zoom for the youth, as well as taking part in a series of weekly webinars on social justice with different inspirational speakers. Every other Friday, she presents the all-age morning prayers on the church Facebook page, with a short talk on a topic for the children.

Rachel has just become a Home for Good Champion so hopefully will be doing some training with other carers about the importance of RSE at home. And, as lockdown eases, some youth groups have expressed interest in summer workshops, so Rachel is preparing for these.

Rachel has also been busy reaching Crossway’s social media audience, aiming to raise awareness on a number of issues. This audience is adults rather than young people but, as families have been spending much more time together, it is equally important for caregivers to know how to talk to their children about wellbeing, relationships and sex. Some followers have messaged with thanks for sharing information on domestic violence in lockdown and advice on managing anger.

This season of working from home has also been an opportunity for Rachel to explore her creative side and she has created a range of fun RSE activities - and has even done some fundraising! The RSE activities have ranged from puzzles and online worksheets and card sorts, to cross stich genitalia and vulva cupcakes! Rachel’s teenage foster son has acted as a focus group by testing many of these out as part of his afternoon ‘enrichment’ activities after he finishes his online school work!

The online content Rachel has been sharing has also been very creative: for example, she has been developing art therapy resources around wellbeing and family relationships, and recorded short video book reviews for RSE Day on June 25th - which she also shared with local schools and youth groups.

Rachel says, “Lockdown has definitely given me a chance to dream bigger for what the future holds teaching-wise and what I feel God is calling me to do in this field. I am looking forward to being back in the classroom this September but am grateful for the time to grow my skills and build connections with other RSE professionals during lockdown.”

"Over the past few months, I have really appreciated being an Esteem network member. Gareth’s Skills Workshops have been so beneficial and I’ve learned new things, such as using OBS Studio, Google forms, advanced features of Zoom and other digital resources. The Think Tank about what the Autumn term may look like in schools and how RSE may have to change was so useful. Gareth also got us to think about our aims when reaching people online and whether online materials would be knowledge, attitude or skills-based. The members’ Facebook group is also excellent for sharing ideas."