Swindon schools join Ant & Dec as they 'Take 10' to read during Mental Health Awareness Week

By Jessica Durston - 17 May 2022

EducationArts and CultureCommunity

TV presenters Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly worked to encourage children, communities and businesses to 'take 10' and read for the National Literacy Trust's #Take10ToRead challenge.

Ant & Dec with a poster for their book Propa Happy

The Take 10 challenge highlights the link between reading for pleasure and mental wellbeing.

The National Literacy Trust says more than 55,000 children took part in this year’s #Take10ToRead moment.

Children from three local schools in Swindon tuned into the digital event which saw Ant & Dec introduce more than 55,000 pupils nationwide to Propa Happy (Farshore Books), their debut book supporting children to nurture their wellbeing every day, with author proceeds going to the NSPCC.

Ant & Dec partnered with the National Literacy Trust on the #Take10ToRead challenge as part of UK Mental Health Awareness Week (which ran from 9 – 15 May), and the event took place in the lead up to the Take 10 moment.

The session, which was attended by pupils at Eldene Nursery and Primary School and Wanborough Primary School, in Swindon included a sneak peek of Propa Happy and the book’s illustrator, Katie Abey, led a draw-a-long for children to share what makes them feel happy.

The book also launched the duo’s Pass the Positivity Campaign, a nationwide positivity project inviting school-aged children to share what makes them feel good – like reading. Swindon pupils were encouraged to give it a go themselves and have the chance to submit their work to the Propa Happy Pass the Positivity Campaign by 20 May at www.propahappy.co.uk.

The National Literacy Trust already has a close relationship with Swindon; the charity’s Swindon Stories campaign aims to equip the town’s children and young people with the literacy skills they need to succeed in life.

It is delivered in partnership with Swindon Borough Council, with funding from Arts Council England and WHSmith. Alongside the schools event with Ant and Dec, Swindon’s local author Steve Antony, the Swindon Town Community Foundation, Revolution Performing Arts, Born Again Swindonian and Carole Bent, wife of artist David Bent, joined in the fun to encourage local families to take part in the #Take10ToRead challenge.

The #Take10ToRead challenge encourages schools, businesses and communities to stop what they’re doing and take the time to read and focus on their wellbeing every day.

Research from the National Literacy Trust shows that reading can be an effective way of helping people care of their mental health and wellbeing – and it only takes 10 minutes a day to see the benefits, including boosting mood, reducing stress levels and improving memory and concentration.

A spokesperson for the NLT said: "This Take 10 moment, during Mental Health Awareness Week, feels even more important give the stress and loneliness brought on by two years of lockdowns. Further research from the National Literacy Trust has shown that 3 on 5 (59.3%) of children told us during lockdown that reading made them feel better, and 3 in 10 (31.6%) said that reading helped them when they felt sad because they could not see their family or friends.

"Moments like the #Take10ToRead campaign, which encourage reading for every day, can make a real difference to the lives of children all over the UK."

Ant McPartlin said: “We love the National Literacy Trust’s Take 10 campaign so were delighted to be able to take part and encourage children and young people to take time for their wellbeing.”

Declan Donnelly added: “In these difficult times, this is more important than ever and #Take10ToRead is an excellent way to reach young people from many different communities across the UK.”

Anish Harrison, Hub Manager of Swindon Stories, at the National Literacy Trust said: "Take 10 is a campaign that is very close to our hearts at the National Literacy Trust – supporting children in their mental health and wellbeing through the simple act of taking 10 minutes every day to read.

"It is brilliant that over 700 children in Swindon joined superstars Ant & Dec to drop everything and read together at the exact same time, and we were thrilled to put on additional community events in the area to encourage more children and their families to be inspired by Take 10 and start reading for pleasure every day.”

The National Literacy Trust are inviting everyone to share their Take 10 challenge on social media by using the hashtag #Take10ToRead. Take 10 is part of the National Literacy Trust’s Connecting Stories initiative, which addresses the literacy attainment gap across the UK with Arts Council England, and is proudly supported by Birmingham-based company Wesleyan.

Ant & Dec’s Propa Happy is out on 26 May and is available from selected bookshops and online.

Individuals can find out more about the book and take part in the Pass the Positivity campaign at propahappy.com.

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