Children in Cornwall are leading the way in supporting their mental health and those of their peers through a new project – the first of its kind in England.

Pupils and staff from Nine Maidens Alternative Provision Academy near Four Lanes have been presented with a cheque for £8,000 from the Duchy Health Charity, allowing work to begin on creating a new mental health support room in the school called The Cove.

The pupils are the first Young Persons Project in Cornwall to be awarded a grant from the ground-breaking scheme set up by the Duchy Health Charity to give young people a real voice in improving their local area.

The first of its kind to be set up in England, the aim of the scheme is to encourage young people to come up with their own ideas for improving health and wellbeing in their local community.

With support from the CHAOS Group, the young people are invited to pitch their ideas to members of the Duchy Health Charity in the hope of receiving funding to turn their proposals into reality.

The partnership between WAVE Multi Academy Trust, which provides education for children who are not in school for medical reasons, or who have been excluded from school, the CHAOS Group and the Duchy Health Charity will see a new positive wellbeing room created at the school, providing pupils with a space in which they can receive-one to-one support and feel grounded, calm and safe.

The Nine Maidens project has been led by pupils Keedan, Brooklyn and Lily, working with their art teacher Tina Leack, design technology teacher Jules Roche, and their wellbeing lead Ceri Skilton, with support from Laura Curtis and Sonia Bradley from the CHAOS Group and MA Illustration student Rosie Hearne, from the University of Falmouth.

Having come up with the idea of creating a mental health support room at the school, the pupils had to pitch their vision to a group of trustees from Duchy Health Charity. Rather than doing a traditional presentation, however, the young people decided to use art as their medium, staging a powerful exhibition of words and images at Heartlands.

The trustees were guided through the exhibition by Keedan, Brooklyn and Lily who explained how the words and images produced by pupils aged from six to 16, in the first section, expressed their trauma, anger, frustration and rowdiness, before displaying their vision of a positive wellbeing room – a place where they could be grounded and calm, where trusted adults and services could support the young people, and where all could feel safe.

The pitch ended with the three young people taking part in discussions with the trustees.

Sonia Bradley, from the CHAOS Group, said: "The young people understood that they were the ones who knew about the project and so the whole pitch was done using their voice, done in their way.

“To see those young people ‘own’ their room the way they did, bravely sharing their experiences, with poise, in their own language and to a group of adults who they had never met, it was a morning that none of us will ever forget.”