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Essex Freemasons Collaborate with 'Get Started'

Essex Freemasons with school children displaying their competition entries


In a post-COVID world that has significantly impacted the mental health of many children, a heartwarming story of community, creativity, and compassion unfolded. 

The profound impact of the recent partnership between the Essex Royal Arch and the 'Get Started' Art Therapy initiative, founded by Essex Freemason Dave Barton, is a testament to the power of art therapy and collective brotherhood efforts. This is about more than just a charity event; it vividly shows how small gestures can significantly and directly affect the lives of children, especially those facing severe challenges.

The Royal Arch's sponsorship through the Old Parkonians Chapter of a recent Easter Themed 'Get Started' Art competition has kick-started an enriching relationship with Longshaw Primary Academy, Chingford. On Wednesday, 27th of March, this collaboration resulted in winners from five-year groups receiving 15 exquisite colouring sets as prizes, awarded to those whose art was considered the most creative. This competition was more than just an event; it was a display of talent, creativity, and the therapeutic power of art, leaving a lasting impression on all those who took part.

Longshaw Primary Academy, a beacon of support for students, some of whom have Special Education Needs and Disabilities, has been a nurturing ground for young minds. The school's commitment to inclusiveness and tailored educational support aligns perfectly with the ethos of 'Get Started' and the Royal Arch, making this partnership a blend of educational values and charitable goals.

The presentation of prizes for the competition was just the start of a larger gesture of generosity. 'Get Started' donated hundreds of Art Therapy colouring books to Longshaw Primary, a contribution that was soon to be utilised. A touching testament to the impact of Art Therapy occurred later that day when a young child, severely struggling with emotional regulation, found instant solace and calm in the pages of one of the donated colouring books, showcasing the immediate benefits of art therapy in educational settings.

The heartening moment was perfectly captured by Mr Alex Bedwell, the Headteacher of Longshaw Primary, who expressed extreme gratitude for the kindness and support extended by Essex Royal Arch and 'Get Started,' saying: 

"We really appreciate your time today and the kindness you've all shown in supporting our school. The children were thrilled to receive their prizes. Shazia (Art teacher at Longshaw) and I are also very grateful for the art therapy books that will be put to good use. In fact, after having them for only five minutes, they have already been used with a Year 1 child who struggles to regulate." 

This powerful testimony speaks volumes about the positive change and support brought into the lives of children, especially those with additional needs.

The science behind the initiative is as compelling as the colourful pictures it creates. Art therapy, especially colouring, is recognised for its ability to reduce stress, improve mood, and foster a sense of personal achievement. 'Get Started' has harnessed this therapeutic potential, distributing over 55,000 Art Therapy Books across the Southeast of England and Scotland, demonstrating the universal appeal of art as a tool for healing and happiness.


Essex Freemasons with school children displaying their competition entries


Before this collaboration, the Essex Royal Arch had already demonstrated its commitment to local education and the well-being of children with a significant gesture during the festive season. Recognising the financial pressures faced by schools, £10,000 was provided between 20 primary schools across Essex, ensuring that end-of-term festive activities could take place. 

Elliott Chevin, the Deputy Grand Superintendent in Essex, said: 

"It is the children who lose out through no fault of their own. We consider this especially so for younger children and want them to share in the excitement at school leading up to Christmas." This spirit of kindness has extended into the new year with their support of 'Get Started' further investing in the local community and enhancing the well-being of its children. Such ongoing commitment highlights an understanding of the critical role that education and mental health support play in children's lives, particularly in these challenging times."

As 'Get Started' continues its mission, support from organisations like the Essex Royal Arch and the wider community remains crucial. The initiative's success at Longshaw Primary Academy is a vivid reminder of the positive change that collaborative efforts can bring about, painting a brighter future for children and adults alike.

It's very clear that the work of 'Get Started' is not just about distributing books or organising competitions. It's about opening doors to expression, healing, and growth, one colouring page at a time. As this initiative moves forward, its canvas only broadens, promising more colours, more smiles, and a lasting impact on the well-being of those it touches.


Some winning entries from the competition

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