When I first started doing my massage training, back in 1997 I was employed as a Senior District Nursing Sister on the 'Evening Night Nursing Service' in Northumberland. Most of the work we did was palliative care and I hoped to use the massage on the patients for symptom control however due to regulations in nursing this never happened and I left District Nursing in 2000 to develop my business- Absolute Energy- which promotes health and Well being in the workplace.
Over the years I have I trained in Body Massage, Aromatherapy, Indian Head Massage, On site Massage, Hot Stones, Ear Candling and more recently become an Advanced Practitioner from the 'No Hands Massage Association'.
However the training that has made the biggest impact and most significant effect on me personally and on my business has been the Peer Massage in Schools Programme and more recently becoming a trainer for the Child2Child Peer Massage Programme.
Let me take you back to 2005............. My business Absolute Energy has a team of practitioners who provide a number of specially adapted holistic treatments to suit the workplace, office or corporate event. We were working in a first school in Jarrow, where all the staff were having massage as a reward from the Head for an excellent ‘Off stead’ report.
We were working in the library and the pupils kept watching us, as they were moving around school. At lunchtime a number them came up to us in the dining room and asked if they could have a massage as well. At the end of the day the Head said, ”Well that’s the staff sorted out now how about the children”. I told him I had recently seen something on TV where the children were massaging each other so would find out more and get back in touch.
I trawled the Internet and eventually found the ‘Massage in Schools Association’; I phoned them straight away and chatted to Jean Barlow the Education Co-coordinator for about two hours. I immediately loved what I heard. The Programme was new, innovative and pioneering. I cancelled everything in my diary and Jean made an extra space on the course for me and three weeks later, there I was in Lancaster. New course, new vocabulary (education) new buzz words. Everyone else on the course were teachers or learning mentors and at first thought as a therapist how was I going to make this work.
The course was excellent and I couldn’t wait to get back and get started, I designed my information packs and started calling the local schools, and my feet haven’t touched the ground since. I have been into over 90 first, middle and high Schools in Northumberland, Newcastle and Gateshead. The results we have had have been even better than I expected.
The vision of the Massage in Schools Programme is that every child attending school experiences positive and nurturing touch every day... everywhere in the world. Designed for 4-12 year olds this is indeed a pioneering programme and the schools have found it a new, exciting and innovative addition to the curriculum. It is based around shared respect and helps build self-esteem, improve communication, reduce aggressive behavior and improves social cohesion. It empowers children to be able to rehearse positive language- the language of Choice and helps promote emotional resilience. It is given and received with the child's permission on the back, head, arms and hands and takes about 7 minutes daily.
Massage is always fully clothed and restricted to arms, shoulders, upper back and neck. Teachers do not massage children, the massage sequences are made into games and stories e.g. drawing the weather map, making a party pizza or building a garden, on the back.
I offer a full and comprehensive programme and visit each class on several occasions. The Children learn the daily routine, weather massage and we do creative massage, where each class makes up their own special routines. We then invite families in for a Celebration Assembly-which is always a lovely moving experience.
I have also received funding through ‘Northumberland Family Learning’ and have worked with families across the region, so they are able to take the massage home and use it as a bedtime routine or merely as a way of bonding and spending quality time together.
Because you are working with children there is obviously a lot of red tape. You have to be CRB checked with each authority. You must get parental permission for each child. The schools do this for you and over the years I must admit there have been very few parents who have not allowed the children to take part. There has be risk assessments and health and safety checks- but the schools are so helpful and have everything in place for you going in.
The last four years have been hard work but so much fun, working with the peer Massage has introduced me to a whole new way of working- although I have taught adults and worked with young adults in the past I had never worked with children this age.
The work can be challenging but so rewarding when you see the results, to be told by a head in a tough school ‘thank you for changing their lives’, has a huge impact on your feelings and I have had more job satisfaction than in all the years I nursed.
If you want to do something different that will help our children become better adults then go become an instructor- I’ve recommended it to lots of other therapist who are now all working as successful independent instructors and more importantly loving their work!
For more information on the programme and on Absolute Energy please visit