Pennthorpe pupils help train child psychologists

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By Jordan Webb

Pupils from Pennthorpe School, Rudgwick, have raised an impressive £1200 to sponsor a clinical psychologist from Uganda to come to England for specialist child trauma therapy


Led by Year 7 pupils Roo Slater and Ralph Robson, the school raised the money through hosting events such as movie nights and collections at the school carol service, to fund the flights and accommodation for their chosen overseas helper.

The 30 children of the year group chose to fundraise for Luna Children’s Charity, specifically targeting their work in Uganda, having heard of the atrocities committed both within and around the country’s borders.

Luna, a child-centred voluntary organisation, offers unique and invaluable training in the treatment of children traumatised by disaster and conflict, having worked in areas such as Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda.

James Rogu Nsereko, a professional psychologist at the Butabika National Referral Psychiatric Hospital in Kampala, will return to his country and share the training he has been given with his colleagues, all of whom work with children that have been subjected to life affecting experiences.

Ralph, aged 12, said, “We want James to go out and help children recover from traumatic experiences.

“We had a year-group meeting and we all thought that the money would go to great use in Uganda.”

Describing the current treatment within Uganda, Mr Rogu remarked, “Many of the children jump out of traditional therapy, whereas Luna offers a less stressful technique.

“Most of the children I work with are a similar age to the children here at Pennthorpe. The children I see in Uganda have gone through horrible life experiences, such as wars and domestic violence and they find it difficult to cope with the effects of the traumatic experiences they have gone through.”

Using a new and innovative technique of therapy, Luna has devised the effective training programme after working with children in deprived areas of central London.

Trustee of the charity, Stella Charman, remarked, “Traditionally, most psychological treatments are designed for adults and until recently, people often dismissed the capability for children to even suffer from mental illness.

“People like James had no methods for children, so we are able to offer a treatment designed for children, by children, yet still based on everything we know about the brain and neuroscience.”

At present, the training offered by Luna is the only one of its kind and with the charity void of any external grants or funding, relies heavily on the generous donations from the wider community.

Mr Nsereko said, “It’s really unimaginable that children can put their resources together and support such a cause.

“I want to convey the appreciation of the children in Uganda towards Luna and the children of Pennthorpe School, for their good spirits towards my country.”

Junior trustee, Roo Slater, reflected, “The whole experience has made me feel very lucky. We could have been born into any situation, but thankfully we have been born into hardworking families in a much safer part of the world.”

The boys hand over their responsibilities to next year’s Year 7 class, who will be aiming to fund similar training for child psychologists in Syria and Turkey.