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Caring pupil wins business award for comforting mental health ‘Buddy’

A CARING pupil who created a comforting ‘Buddy’ for people suffering with mental health issues received a business award.

Emilia Zietara was successful in the National BTEC Social Enterprise Competition run by learning group Pearson and the Peter Jones Foundation.

A pupil at Ysgol Rhosnesni, Wrexham, Emilia is on the School Link Programme at Coleg Cambria and was entered for the project she delivered on a BTEC Level 2 Certificate in Business.

Her idea – a ‘Buddy’ made from soft, recycled material, to be used as a stress reliever and support system – was lauded by judges, who “loved the thought process and the research that had gone into the Buddy, as well as the creativity and engaging presentation that Emilia showcased as part of the competition”.

Peter Jones Foundation CEO Bill Muirhead added: “Emilia won in a very hard Key Stage 4 category and beat hundreds of entries, so huge congratulations was in order.”

A delighted Emilia came up with the concept – which is now being trialled in local primary schools – during the pandemic, as students across the UK were forced to learn from home in lockdown, away from their friends and in isolation.

After carrying out research she received a positive response, with many saying the Buddy relieved tension and anxiety, making them feel comforted and calmer.

Emilia said: “I didn’t think I would win, but when I did, I couldn’t believe it.

“The idea was originally intended to be a memory bear for people who had lost someone or wanted to have something to hold to keep a memory alive, for any reason really.

“However, shortly after researching more into the increase of mental health problems in the UK and the instant smiles from those who held the first Buddy I made, it got me thinking about how this could be important to support those who really needed it.

“Further research took me to the inclusion centre at Coleg Cambria, where I was allowed to leave them for students to look at, hold and give their feedback.  The reaction was more than I could have anticipated, from a hand stitched rabbit from old t-shirt material!”

She added: “It was there the Buddy was born, with a focus on helping people with anxiety and in hard times.

“Since winning, it is being trialled in local primary schools for learners facing challenging times, whether that be a bereavement or just for someone who needs reassurance after a bad day.

“This has been a genuinely incredible experience that I won’t forget, I am so humbled and honoured to be chosen and I still can’t believe it.”

For the latest news and information from Coleg Cambria, visit www.cambria.ac.uk.