Helping hand – Emma with Craig Bennett and his daughter Maillie Bennett, who participated in massage classes at Lostock Primary School
Relationships between parents and children are being given a helping hand by a local therapist.
After-school massage classes for both pupils and their parents, are the brainchild of 26-year-old Emma Lawson, from Bolton.
She is the founder of Empathy Holistics, a company specialising in alternative and holistic therapy.
Massage in schools is not new - indeed the Massage in Schools Programme (MISP) was introduced to Britain nine years ago by an infant massage instructor from Sweden and her Canadian colleague. The peer-to-peer massage system sees children grouped in pairs and massaging each other, with the belief that respectful touch helps build rapport, can encourage self-esteem and prevent bullying.
However, under Emma's scheme both parents and children learn the techniques and then take turns to test out the simple massage techniques on each other. The routine is carried out fully clothed.
Emma, who was helped by Bolton Council's Business Bolton team with her new venture, qualified as an MISP instructor last year. She was training teachers and school children in Lostock Primary School, on Glegarth Drive, in the art of massage when she saw the opportunity to extend the principals of the programme to parents.
She piloted weekly 45-minute workshops at the school last summer, with great success. The workshops were attended by three parents and six children aged between five and 10.
Emma said: "I thought the massage techniques would benefit both parents and children, improving their wellbeing. The classes help the children if they've had an active day. Parents think it’s a really good idea because it means they can get more involved and it helps them to relax. The pupils could be over stimulated after a full day at school and what better way for them to relax at the end of the day than with a massage? The head teacher said she thought it was a really good idea."
Emma first demonstrates the techniques such as hand and head massage before the parents and children take it in turns to massage each other.
"We even do some meditation, relaxation and visualisation. Some parents even started burning essential oils at home and told me that it was helping their children to concentrate better," she said.
The school funded the workshops and parents paid a small fee to attend. The 26-year-old entrepreneur also has an office on Oxford Road, in Manchester, where she performs other therapies.
Emma said: "Business Bolton's help has been really good. They helped me revamp my business plan, encouraged and motivated me which is what I need. Now I'm really keen to roll the programme out to more schools to help build better relationships between parents and their children."
Councillor John Byrne, Executive Member for Regeneration, added: "Emma's classes sound like they help reduce stress both at school and at home. Given the credit crunch, massages are probably a great way to help parents relax. The Business Bolton team can help in many ways. One of the things they did for Emma was organise support with the Chartered Institute of Marketing. It's good to see that even in the current economic climate Business Bolton is helping entrepreneurs like Emma to make their business a success."
For more information click on the link above. To find out more about Business Bolton, visit their website (link above) or call 01204 334444.