25 February 2019

By Stephanie Weissman (Founder & CEO INSIDE OUT)

After every INSIDE OUT day (otherwise known as a ‘Magical Day Out’) at Checkendon Equestrian Centre, I have a follow-up visit back at Ranikhet Academy. Today was that day at school ... and it was amazing! I love coming to Ranikhet. As always, as soon as I arrived, I received a warm welcome. I first met with wonderful teachers Jane Gardener and Theresa Young who accompanied the children to Checkendon on 22nd November. Their feedback was really helpful and insightful. They’ve been on a number of Magical Days Out and felt this last one was the best yet. They felt the children were really receptive and keen and opened up on an emotional level. They saw sides of one child they had never seen before at school and how another child was able to just be a child, in the most positive sense, in ways they don’t normally let themselves. 

I was delighted to hear about the assembly at school where they gave out the certificates we did up for the children and how children wrote letters to their horses, which brings the ‘magic’ back into school, consolidates learning and links to literary. I then had the pleasure of meeting with Ben Thomas. His passion for INSIDE OUT started when he was at The Palmer Academy, and lucky for us, he has brought this passion for what we do to Ranikhet. He is a true Champion of INSIDE OUT and much adored by my entire team. It was great chatting with him — he did a stellar job with the organisational details of the trip and always has a very positive attitude.

Theresa rounded up the group of 8 Year 5s who participated (our ‘INSIDE OUTers’) to meet with me in the conference room. The children were total stars! Polite and super happy to recount their Magical Day Out, they each took turns using the magic microphone (a stick!), and answered questions including: What did they remember/learn? How did they feel throughout the day? Riding and grooming the horses, pretending to be aliens and eating a strawberry (blindfolded and mindfully!), going floppy liked cooked spaghetti and breathing with rubber ducks on their bellies, using the happiness stones to remember happy memories, turning sticks into treehouses, making museums with invisible walls in the woods, that FBW stands for Feel your Feet, Breathing and Weather … and of course ‘jacquesbobjeff’ (a cool character created!) were just a few things they recalled. Everyone remembered their horse’s name, and with a little help, they all told me that the ‘5 Keys to Happiness’ were — Look Inside, Move Outside, Share More, Be Curious, Be Kind. The kids could have gone on for days — it was truly music to my ears! One child even shared how he learned that one of his classmates had ridden a cow once! I was particularly moved when another child shared how he was scared at first to do things but he did them (truly embracing the ‘giving things a go’ mindset we encouraged). I weaved in some group interactive activities including charging up a happiness stone with happy thoughts and doing a FBW, filling out Happy Horseshoes, and writing 3 words to describe their INSIDE OUT day with coloured sharpies and stickies on a scroll (’exciting’, ‘challenging’, ‘fun’ were some). Throughout, the children were enthusiastic, articulate and engaged. Headteacher, Louisa Compton, even popped in to say hello which was really lovely.

It was truly a visit I will never forget. What a privilege and joy to partner with Ranikhet Academy and to get to know their exceptional children and teachers. 

My Visit to Ranikhet Academy