Duchess of Cambridge meets therapy puppy during visit to Reach Academy

The Duchess of Cambridge today visited the Reach Academy in Feltham, west-London, a school that is working with the mental health charity Place2Be, of which Kate is a royal patron.

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Catherine, duchess of cambridge, arrives at feltham academy (kesington palace)

The Reach Academy is a school for pupils between four and 18, and has pioneered working with mental health charities to assist both students and their families throughout their time at the school. The academy works closely with Place2Be, which supports the families of pupils for the first 1,000 days of their time with the school, and Family Links, which aims to ensure the all schools and workplaces are emotionally healthy.

The school’s pupils lined up in the playground as the Duchess arrived in a navy ensemble (details over at Replicate Royalty!). Kate walked through the playground, stopping to talk to as many of the pupils as she could, and she was handed a posy by a six-year-old. Catherine was heard telling the pupils that she was very impressed with their singing as she entered the building; the chorus performed Nina Simone’s ‘I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free’.

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kate joined in with the young pupils in an art class at feltham academy (kensington palace)

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Teachers from the academy briefed The Duchess of Cambridge on the work of the academy and took her on a tour of the building, visiting the nursery – which, of course, Princess Charlotte has recently started attending. The Royal sat at a small table with some of the nursery pupils and joined in painting, asking them who had painted what.

The pregnant Duchess then went outside, and was introduced to the academy’s therapy guinea pig. Some of the younger pupils told her about what they feed it.

Kate also met a four-month old trainee therapy dog, named Bear, in the school gardens, handing him a rosette for completing his training. The poodle and bischon frise-mix was on his best behaviour during the royal visit, but his handler, Karen Howard, was concerned as he ‘was really naughty all morning’.

The Duchess of Cambridge described Reach Academy’s puppy as ‘really cute’ and ‘really fluffy’; therapy animals are used to calm stressed and worried pupils, and are chosen for their calm behaviour and ability to be trained.

Chickens, and rabbits are also kept at the school.

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Before she left, Kate also spoke to older students about the support they have received whilst at school, and broached the topic of social media with students. “Do you feel that social media puts a lot of pressure on young people?” the Royal asked.

“It can get so addictive as well. It becomes part of your lifestyle, doesn’t it?

“It’s hard to break away from that, but having the support and learning, the good ways of using social media, because it’s great in so many contexts, but it’s also being able to sort of monitor your own use of it as well, which is great.”

duchess kate talks to staff about their work at reach academy (kensington palace)

Staff spent time with Catherine, too, discussing their aims and plans.

Kate has been a royal patron of the Place2Be mental health charity since 2013, demonstrating her commitment to an aspect of health that has, until recently, been largely overlooked.

President and Founder of the charity said, “By helping to raise awareness of Place2Be’s early intervention work in schools, the Duchess will also help the charity to reach even more of the UK’s most vulnerable children and their families who so desperately need support.”

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