On Monday, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended the Place2Be assembly at Mitchell Brook Primary School located in north-west London. As part of the Heads Together mental health initiative, this event also kicked off Children’s Mental Health Week. It is to showcase and promote the Royal Foundation’s Heads Together campaign. Place2Be is one of the eight partner organisations working with Heads Together to get people around the UK talking about mental health.
The Duke and Duchess were greeted by cheering students waving flags and a steel band. The Duchess accepted a posy of flowers from a student before heading inside to meet with staff and students in the assembly hall.
On stage in the school’s assembly hall, before the school’s staff and pupils, the Duke and Duchess were joined by the head teacher, Theresa Landreth. Ms Landreth introduced the Duchess by saying: “We know that she has the K Factor, and we know she supports children throughout the world with the charities she works with.”
The Duchess then addressed everyone: “People often ask me why I am so interested in the mental health of children and young people,” she said. “The answer is quite simple – it is because I think that every child should have the best possible start in life. When I was growing up, I was very lucky. My family was the most important thing to me. They provided me with somewhere safe to grow and learn, and I know I was fortunate not to have been confronted by serious adversity at a young age.”
She acknowledged that some children don’t have others around them to nurture them or show them kindness. She expressed how important it is to show those around you kindness: “For some children, maybe there are some here today, I know that life can sometimes feel difficult and full of challenges. I think that every child should have people around them to show them love and to show them kindness, and nurture them as they grow. This is what Place2Be is doing so amazingly here in your school.”
“If we are worried, upset, lonely or angry – the best thing to do is to talk to someone about it,” said Kate. “Whether that is your mother or father, a teacher or a friend. I know that in your school you have been working on a project to spread a little kindness, and I think this is such an important thing to do.”
The Duchess told the children how to help those around them: “If you see someone who you think might need help, try and be kind to them. Keep a look out for them if they are on their own or seem sad or worried. Perhaps they just need a hug or someone to talk to. I know it is hard if you are feeling down yourself. But helping someone out will also make you feel so much better, too.”
She ended her speech by saying how she and Prince William are living by example, by teaching Prince George and Princess Charlette about love and kindness: “My parents taught me about the importance of qualities like kindness, respect, and honesty, and I realise how central values like these have been to me throughout my life. That is why William and I want to teach our little children, George and Charlotte, just how important these things are as they grow up. In my view, it is just as important as excelling at maths or sport.”
Then, the Duchess presented the very first Kindness Cup to 10-year-old Nadia Dhicis. Nadia has shown exceptional kindness in her school community and the community at large by helping her fellow students, her siblings, and by volunteering at a local food bank. After the ceremony, Nadia said: “I’m very proud of myself. I didn’t know I could win this, but I’m striving to achieve more. The school is like a second home; the teachers are so friendly, they are very concerned if something happens at home or outside, you can tell them.”
To bring the point home further about mental health, the students of Mitchell Brook role played acts of kindness and performed “Count On Me”, the hit song by Bruno Mars. The Duke and Duchess also listened as children discussed how kindness from others can help them through tough moments.
Director of clinical services at Place2Be, Fiona Pienaar, later said of the Duchess’s interaction: “It’s a big impact, we’re really grateful to her as a Patron, and she makes a huge difference. She’s knowledgeable, and she’s passionate about the subject, and the Duke obviously is as well. Having set up Heads Together, they’re really committed, and I don’t think it’s just for a year or so. I think it’s clearly what they feel very strongly about. So for us as a charity, she’s an outstanding spokesperson. I think they are making a big difference, not just to children’s mental health, but across the board. It’s fantastic that she brings in her own experience of being a child and brings in the importance that she and the Duke feel about bringing up their own children, understanding their mental health and being kind.”
On Sunday, the Duke, Duchess, and Prince Harry visited the teams training for the London Marathon for Heads Together at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The trio even took part in some training themselves; they raced each other in a 100m sprint. Harry, William, and Catherine came in first, second, and third places, respectively. Heads Together is the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon Charity of the Year.