Big Education Challenge:
Meet finalist Jenna Maudlin

Read more about the Big Education Challenge

Jenna Maudlin, aged 38 from Norfolk, experienced mental health struggles in school when her mother was diagnosed with MS during her GCSEs, and further loss at 22 when her mother passed away. Now a multi-award-winning designer, she has started The Firefly Project. The initiative aims to support schools to help young people understand and deal with loss and trauma, developing their social and emotional skills through design-based workshops and resources.

“​​Loss and Trauma are a part of life – but we don’t talk about it. Through ‘The Firefly Project’, and as a Big Education Challenge finalist, I hope to help schools empower children and young people to thrive through life’s biggest challenges.”

About Jenna

Jenna leads The Firefly Project, and she is on a mission to give children and young people the power to deal with loss and trauma.

The problem

When a child experiences loss or trauma, they often don’t have the words to express themselves, and their friends and peers don’t know what to say.

Young people are often left out of conversations about bereavement and grief, which can lead to them feeling isolated and alone. Support can happen too late, which can have a significant impact on life outcomes – for example, 41% of young offenders have experienced a childhood bereavement.

There is increased awareness of loss and trauma caused by the events of the last few years. Easy access to unregulated information online means that now is the time to teach children about these topics in the safe space of a classroom. But schools face increasing pressure to improve attainment after the pandemic, and often lack time, resources and support.

“When children feel safe, they thrive. But there’s a lot that’s happened recently that has left us feeling less safe. Children have been left feeling lost, confused, and unbalanced. As they witness more global challenges, we ask, will their education equip them to cope with our uncertain, unpredictable world?”

The bold idea

The Firefly Project will consist of six cross-curricular workshops to help children understand and deal with loss and trauma as a part of life.

The workshops combine psychoeducation with social-emotional learning through play and design thinking to share age appropriate information that builds compassion and teaches critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills.

Children will work together in teams and be guided through the design process to create an emotional health toolkit for their school. Support and training will be provided to schools so that they can implement The Firefly Project’s approach in lessons.

“Young people will be guided to think critically, creatively problem solve and develop the confidence and agency that will empower them to support themselves and others through difficult times.”

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