Newcastle children reach out to key workers with Rainbow Trail

Lucy Adams reports on the rainbow trail making it's way around the North East...

Lucy Adams
26th March 2020
Image: @claypoolschool on Twitter
In the wake of school closures, children around Newcastle are decorating their house windows with rainbows and encouraging messages in what is becoming a national movement to share in joy and resilience.

The posters and pictures are aimed particularly at lifting the spirits of NHS and “key workers”; a post on blog Motherly described it as a way of “showing love and solidarity with first responders and essential workers during this difficult time.”

Pam Storey, a nurse working in Gateshead, tweeted: “Been on nights this week with my wonderful colleagues providing rapid response nursing - even in the darkness the children of Gateshead have put a smile on our faces with their beautiful rainbows in the windows thank you all so much”.

The hashtag #rainbowtrail has been garnering popularity across the UK as people take to Twitter to document their children’s creations or to share their responses.

North Wales Police have made a rainbow colouring-in sheet available on their website. Deputy Chief Constable Richard Debicki commented: “As a father of two young children myself, I know how difficult it can be to keep them entertained. Hopefully this will help lift people’s spirits, even if it’s just a smile. We also hope it will send a message to our NHS colleagues that we are thankful and grateful to them as they work hard to protect our communities."

Following a decline in school attendance, last Friday schools across the country closed their doors to all but the children of key workers for an indefinite period. Many parents are attempting to provide education for their children at home for the first time.

Major adjustments to ordinary life, and the precariousness of public health and the economic future, are taking their toll on mental health that can be felt globally. Speaking with UNICEF, psychologist Lisa Damour emphasised the effect of the pandemic on children: “In the scope of an adolescent’s life [loss of school, friends, anticipated events and activities] are major losses. This is bigger for them than it is for us because we’re measuring it against our lifetime and experience. Support, expect and normalize that they are very sad and very frustrated about the losses they are mourning.”

Before schools closed, classes at Grange First Primary School in Newcastle began to make the signs. A spokesperson from the school said: "Signs are going up in windows all over our area and beyond and will really help maintain morale for children (and families) in these difficult times."

In the spirit of solidarity members of the general medicine and general surgery team at Newcastle RVI posted pictures of themselves holding up signs that read: “Thank you for looking after our children so we can look after you”.

Other Newcastle youngsters have raised spirits in different ways. As a response to the closure of Disneyland and cancellation of Disney-themed birthday parties, 18 year-old Charlotte Bredael from Gosforth is sending personalised video messages to children who have been disappointed dressed in costume as Disney princess Rapunzel.

Chalk messages written by children on pavements around Whitley Bay and Gosforth areas, and on the rainbow posters, call for everyone in crisis to “be kind”, “hope” and “keep singing a rainbow”. Whilst one child wrote: “If you want the rainbow, then you gotta put up with the rain.”

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