A BASINGSTOKE mum is celebrating her first year in business after taking on a franchise with the aim of building children’s confidence and emotional resilience.

Chantal Dawson joined the CHAMPS Academy franchise as a confidence and life skills coach for the Basingstoke area, supporting and inspiring children and young people in the community.

The 36-year-old mum-of-two from Hatch Warren recognises how important it is to have confident, resilient children, and she runs courses, workshops and one-to-one coaching in the community and in local schools.

She also recently launched a confident transition workshop for children in years six and seven to support them through the often-difficult move to secondary school.

Chantal grew up in a small town in South Africa in an environment that was very different to that which children experience today.

She said: “Life is a lot more challenging for young people now, not only do they have the usual pressures of growing up, such additions as social media pressure, greater academic stress and body image anxieties are making them very unhappy. We’ve all seen the headlines about the increase in children’s mental health and how they are struggling to cope with everyday life.”

CHAMPS Academy was founded in 2000 by children and teens confidence, psychological and mental health expert Annette Du Bois, and has the ambitious aim to inspire, empower and motivate one million children and teenagers by 2020, to live happier and more confident lives.

Chantal, who used to work with pre-school children in South Africa before becoming an au pair in America, said: “We’re living in such a fast-paced society with many daily pressures and challenges. I often say to children and young people that we’re unable to change or control what goes on around us but we can control ourselves and our minds. We can control the way in which we deal with the challenge that is thrown our way – whether that’s bullying, social media pressure, home-work challenges, disappointment or lack of confidence."

“I feel passionate about supporting children and young people and to give them the life skills that they need to be able to be their best selves now and as they become adults.”

Chantal encourages parents to attend the sessions with their children, so they too can learn the tools and techniques to support their children at home.

“Parents often comment how useful the tools and techniques are for them, even as adults and that you’re never too old to learn something new,” said Chantal, adding: “There’s nothing more rewarding than hearing how a child’s confidence and resilience has grown as a result of my help and support. I look forward to working with many more children and families in our community and to make a positive difference to children’s confidence.”

For more information visit champs-academy.co.uk or Facebook.com/ChampsChantal.