Space for the soul
2 May 2018
Students at Aylsham High School have been exploring spirituality, prayer and life’s biggest questions with their very own interactive prayer space this week.
Aylsham Parish Church, in partnership with the school’s Religious Studies Department, created the Prayer Space in a marquee on the school field as part of a growing national initiative to provide places for spiritual reflection in schools. The Prayer Space, while being rooted in a broadly Christian perspective, was put together in such a way that it was accessible to students of all faiths and none.
The marquee was filled with creative, tactile ‘stations’ which gave the students an opportunity to develop skills of personal reflection and spirituality in a fun, open, safe and inclusive way. In addition to lesson time for some classes, the space was also open to all students at break times. The Prayer Space has proved to be very popular with over 100 students visiting each lunchtime.
One year 7 student said:
“It is incredible. I’m really enjoying coming here to relax and reflect at lunchtime. I wish it was here for more than a week.”
A year 10 student commented:
“I’m not a very religious person but I’ve loved it. It’s completely changed my day.”
A year 9 boy told us:
“It’s really relaxing. It looks amazing, and it’s really helped with my exam stress. When I’m in here, I feel all the stress drifting away.”
Helen Jacquet, Head of Religious Studies at Aylsham High school said:
“It has been wonderful to see students from all walks of life responding to the Prayer Space in really positive way. They have had the opportunity to reflect on a wide range of issues from exam stress and self- image to forgiveness and refugees in a safe and engaging environment.
“We have had a steady stream of students from across the years visit including a few repeat customers, and the atmosphere has ranged from lively interest to quiet reflection. The students I have spoken to are keen to have the space again next year and we are very grateful to Revd Jack and Revd Andrew from the Parish Church for all that they have done to give us such a special experience this week.”
Revd Jack Branford, Curate of Aylsham Parish Church said:
“It’s been a brilliant week. The Prayer Space has been filled with a lot of laughter and fun, as well as a great deal of thoughtful contemplation. I think it’s shown that many young people are innately curious about the biggest questions in life. Many young people are interested in spirituality and have a sense that there might be more to life than meets the eye.
“The wonderful thing about the Prayer Space is that it enables Young People to explore these ideas and experiences in a completely open way that can help them develop their own sense of self-worth, identity, meaning and purpose. A rare space for the soul in a young person’s life.”
The Prayer Space has been such a success that the school and church are already planning to host something very similar again next year.