Around Ealing April / May 2019 | Page 30

BEFORE YOU GO Inspiring positivity It was Children’s Mental Health Week in February; and school students were told a true tale of how resilience and positive thinking changed the life of a man who nearly died as a teenager – and how it could change theirs, too. I n 2006, after returning from a school trip abroad, Anthony Bennett fell extremely ill with three viral infections targeting his lungs. His parents were told he had a 10% chance of survival and he needed to be resuscitated and brought back to life 12 times during a seven-week stay at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH). After making a full recovery and relearning how to walk, talk and breathe again without the aid of machines, he was asked to help GOSH raise funds by talking about his experiences. Although nervous, he did it – and he has not looked back since. He is now a motivational speaker who, among other things, visits local schools to give talks and hold workshops for pupils. Recently he returned to his old school, Greenford High, where he held talks during the course of a whole week with different age groups. “Going through my traumatic 30 around ealing    April/May 2019 experience and then overcoming my fear of public speaking taught me a lot about myself and gave me a very positive outlook on life,” he told us. Anthony is also a keen photographer and won Around Ealing’s autumn 2018 Seasons of Ealing photography competition (see ‘STRENGTH TO BELIEVE IN THEMSELVES’ He shares his own experiences with students to help them to think about their lives differently, how to stay motivated and to think positively about themselves. He tackles bullying, procrastination, social media, dealing with setbacks and being resilient in the face of challenges. “Feedback from pupils often expresses how it has made them think differently about things,” said Anthony. “It’s given them strength to believe in themselves and to see life with a new perspective.” Jeremy Dudman Jones, assistant headteacher at Greenford High, said: “Rarely can a speaker hold the audience so intently for such a long time but Anthony’s message was listened to by all our young adults with respect, enthusiasm and wide-eyed wonder. The change in people’s attitudes afterwards was palpable and clear.” Councillor Yvonne Johnson, Ealing Council’s cabinet member for schools and children’s services, said: “We all have a role to play in supporting young people through difficult times and, more generally, in helping them to find self-belief. “I was pleased to hear about these talks and the genuinely inspirational effect they appear to have had on pupils’ outlook.” Read the full story and an interview with Anthony – and watch a video – at features/positive