Who was your favourite children’s TV character when you were younger? Do you remember the theme tune, some of their catchphrases, how they made you feel? To capture the minds of children you need to capture their hearts, spark their imagination and excite them. Good messages are good but to go a little deeper you need a good story well told and you need a person, someone they like and can identify with.
When I was creating HeartSmart 3 years ago I realised pretty quick that I was going to need something or someone otherwise it was just me. I set about looking, dreaming and hoping that somehow I would land upon something/someone remarkable, which is a challenge on a development budget. A robot with a heart seemed like a good idea, even better one who wrestled with his internal dialogue. Thanks to a friends’ recommendation I met a man in Manchester who made robots and objects out of old junk. After a few weeks of creating together I took him to St Marks in Wigan where I was piloting the resource and he was given the name Boris by a 5year old which kind of stuck.
The remarkable thing about a character like Boris the Robot is that it provides a safe place for children to explore the wrestlings they have with their internal dialogue. They can identify from a safe distance and learn alongside Boris about tuning into the voice of truth and love that is essential for true resilience. By empathising with Boris they discover truths for themselves. When children love a character the channels for learning are open. Their hearts are engaged and as a result so are their minds.
The Boris the Robot book is core to the delivery of HeartSmart. It’s a window into his heart and mind and sets the context for a whole host of meaningful conversations. We created it in the hope that it would also be a tool to facilitate conversations in the home, that it would carry the HeartSmart ethos beyond the school gates. We’ve included free slides in the HeartSmart school curriculum but I’d encourage you to get a print copy or two for the school library and perhaps even explore how you might engage the parents with it. We do bulk discounts to partner with you in precisely that aim. At the very least, you might just enjoy reading it for yourself!
Here’s a little excerpt from the book, if you want to find out what happens next you’ll have to get a copy (or visit the slides in the lesson material!)
Hope you enjoy
Now day-by-day with the family away.
Dad at work, the children at school, BORIS was by himself as a rule.
So he’d spend his time in the garden shed,
Where it’s lovely & cosy, there’s even a bed.
Making gadgets and “tinkering away,” ‘
Til the children came home, when they’d rush out and play.
They’d go to the park, they’d play on the swings,
They’d tell jokes on benches and eat picnic things.
For BORIS, it was the best time that he’d ever had.
So why did he sometimes still feel so sad…
Watch Dave introduce what the Boris the Robot book is all about: