Kate Middleton and Prince William kicked off Children's Mental Health Week Monday.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended Mitchell Brook Primary School in London, where they were met by dozens of flag-waving children and a steel pan orchestra. Kate, 35, and William, 34, sat down on the "kindness bench" as they celebrated all the students' kind deeds. The "kindness bench" is normally located on the school's playground. Sitting on it indicates a child is feeling lonely or in need of a friend, prompting his or her classmates to provide support.
Kate, a longtime patron of the mental health charity Place2Be, made a brief speech during their visit. "People often ask me why I am so interested in the mental health of children and young people. The answer is quite simple: It is because I think that every child should have the best possible start in life," the Duchess said. "When I was growing up I was very lucky. My family was the most important thing to me. They provided me with somewhere safe to grow and learn, and I know I was fortunate not to have been confronted by serious adversity at a young age."
"For some children—maybe there are some here today—I know that life can sometimes feel difficult and full of challenges. I think every child should have people around them to show them love, and to show them kindness, and nurture them as they grow," she told the students. "This is what Place2Be is doing so amazingly here in your school."
"Recently I met an 11 year-old girl who was helped by Place2Be. She told me that if you keep your feelings inside, you can feel as though you will blow up like a balloon. But, by talking to someone about them, it can make you feel so much better. I thought that was such a clever way of looking at it," she continued. "If we are worried, upset, lonely or angry, the best thing to do is to talk to someone about it—whether that is your mother or father, a teacher or a friend."
"I know that in your school you have been working on a project to spread a little kindness and I think this is such an important thing to do," Kate said. "If you see someone who you think might need help, try and be kind to them. Keep a look out for them if they are on their own or seem sad or worried. Perhaps they just need a hug or someone to talk to. I know it is hard if you are feeling down yourself. But helping someone out will also make you feel so much better, too."
"My parents taught me about the importance of qualities like kindness, respect and honesty, and I realize how central, values like these have been to me throughout my life. That is why William and I want to teach our little children, George and Charlotte, just how important these things are as they grow up. In my view, it is just as important as excelling at maths or sport."
"Now, I am very excited about presenting the 'Kindness Cup' and hearing your stories. Do remember that even if you don't win today, the fact that you are helping make your school such a supportive and friendly place is so important," the Duchess concluded. "You should all be very proud of yourselves and each other. Thank you so much for having me here with you all today."
Kate (wearing Luisa Spagnoli) then presented 10-year-old Nadia Dhicis with the "Kindness Cup."
Children's Mental Health continues through Feb. 12.