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Programme to lift confidence in kids

Jan 28th, 2013 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, News, Top Picture

BOOSTING CONFIDENCE: Wu Tao teacher Tonia Kennedy, laughter yoga instructor Christina Longley and EFT healer Debby Guddee

THREE local women are on a mission to boost young Kiwis’ confidence – using therapeutic and holistic techniques rarely used in New Zealand schools.

Wellingtonians Debby Guddee, Tonia Kennedy and Christina Longley have put together Confidence4Kids, a programme to help children improve their self-image through dance, drawing, yoga and emotional learning.

Art therapist and laughter yoga instructor Christina says Confidence4Kids aims to give children aged seven to 11 tools for life through creative, high energy and relaxing activities.

“The children are going to have no idea what’s going on at first. They’ll just be coming along to have some fun,” she says.

“But their parents will notice a significant difference after a while.”

With Confidence4Kids, children will learn Wu Tao, a dance inspired by Chinese medicine, which helps the dancer channel energy and connect with their natural surroundings.

They will then be taken through art therapy exercises, workshops on Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) and laughter yoga sessions. Finally, the children will learn HeartMath exercises – a US system, which encourages cohesion of the heart and mind – and finish with group meditation.

“The kids will start with dancing out their emotions, then drawing how they feel, and then they’ll get to release emotions through EFT,” says Debby, who has been practising EFT – which helps release emotion by tapping parts of the body – for nine years.

“We’ll be identifying good and bad emotions.”

Christina says none of the activities taught by her colleagues have been offered in New Zealand schools, whereas Wu Tao, laughter yoga, EFT and HeartMath are used in schools overseas.

“EFT is in schools worldwide. It’s a very effective mechanism for helping kids cope with bullying,” says Debby.

“There’s also been a 98% success rate for helping deal with post-traumatic stress disorder. Life-long fears can be gone in half an hour.”

“Children love it. They grasp it really easily.”

Tonia says she looks forward to teaching children Wu Tao Express, created specifically for four to 12 year olds

“The dances are flowing and enable the person to interpret them with their own self-expression,” says Tonia, who teaches Wu Tao in Paraparaumu.

“Through the classes which run in Australia, the tutors have found the children have gained more focus, concentration, creative expression and become a lot more relaxed.”

She will also lead the meditation part of the programme.

“Children who meditate regularly, just like adults, have better sleeping patterns, have more energy and have a great sense of calm.”

Christina says she hopes Confidence4Kids will help empower children to deal with modern day challenges, such as bullying and peer pressure.

“Our society hasn’t dealt with bullying at all. We’ve bandaided it. We’ve denied that it’s happening and are telling kids it’s all in their head.”

“If children develop a healthy self-esteem, it will carry them through to their teens and beyond,” says Debby.

The Confidence4Kids workshops will begin on February 2, and will be held at Linden School in Tawa. More information can be found on

MORE FOCUS: Children learning Wu Tao Express in Australia

IMAGES: Supplied

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is a Whitireia journalism student, most passionate about the arts and social justice issues. Sometimes, she even combines the two.
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