• Kia Fullerton

Veterans help UK children cope with virus stress

British army veteran Mike Hamilton, encourages children to take part in a military-style game designed to boost their resilience and mental health during the uncertain times of Covid-19.

Hamilton, who served with bomb disposal teams in Afghanistan and Iraq, is working with 10 children in a schoolyard in Manchester, England.

The game called 'Picking up the virus' involves a small ball with wooden blocks, racing to a trash can and dropping the ball inside before pretending to wash their hands.

This game initiated by Hamilton, is the founder of a company called Commando Joe's that sends former veterans to U.K. schools to guide exercises in teamwork, dealing with adversity and staying calm under pressure.

The organisation, which is partly funded by the government, works with hundreds of schools. Hamilton says that since the virus outbreak began, he has received calls from teachers looking for lessons to help their students cope with stress.

Sophie Murfin, executive headteacher at the Wise Owl Trust, which includes three schools in Manchester, says the goal was giving the children a friendly and positive environment.

"It’s about ensuring the children’s worries are alleviated by giving them different activities to complete in a fun and engaging way," Murfin said.

Hamilton says he hopes his exercises help kids understand "it's OK not to be OK."

Eight-year-old Sonny Turner, who participated in the "catch the virus" game, said it gave him a confidence boost. "It makes me feel confident about not feeling coronavirus is going to get me," Turner said.

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