Teesside based educator, author, comedian and teacher Shonette Bason-Wood has this week been named by the Independent newspaper as one of the top ten happiest people in the UK.
Shonette manages the charity Spread the Happiness and is taking ‘the happiness revolution’ into classrooms and to audiences across the country.
The news comes in the same week as a report published by the Children’s Society cites childhood happiness is at its lowest level in a decade. Five per cent of respondents reported a low score for happiness, suggesting around 200,000 young people in the UK are unhappy.
Shonette said: “Children don’t have the freedom that we had years ago in terms of us being more safety conscious and with the advent of technology.
“Childhood seems unhappier. A recent survey found around 86% of three year olds have a device while teenagers are increasingly exposed to social media in which they see ‘things’ that give them cause to feel unhappy.
“What we need to do for our children is focus as a nation on giving them strategies to maintain their own happiness, to teach them happiness is an emotion that they themselves can create.
“Spread the Happiness is starting an education revolution, beginning with those in charge of teaching our children. Our core plan is to uplift educators and infuse them with a bit of joy, with the broader aim of rippling out to families and the local community. We’ve got 3,000 people in the movement and it’s growing.”
Spread the Happiness has produced a list of the top 100 things to do in childhood before the age of six (Add link?).
Shonette has toured the UK with her comedy act, and has also organized fundraising events and regular charity events in highly deprived areas. Her early career was as a teacher, and she still teaches one day a week in a primary school.
After learning of the holiday hunger crisis from teachers across the nation, Shonette took action and began fundraising in her home region of the North East, where she has so far distributed over 200 family hampers, called Happiness Hampers. She is also in the process of setting up food banks in four schools in Teesside.
Living in Wynyard in County Durham, Shonette is a single mother to her four children – Jasmine, 22; Alice, 21; Ben, 20; and George, 18; but despite her hectic family life, Shonette even holds the Guinness World Record for ‘the most people modelling with modelling clay’. Her Dough Discos concept, which uses modelling clay to aid fine motor skills, is now used in schools in 29 different countries globally.
Shonette’s top tips for happiness:
1 – make a conscious decision to be happier and action it. Greet people with a smile and do what you say you will
2 – go and do something for someone else. A giver feels more happiness than someone who receives
3 – enjoy music and select a personal anthem which you can play to give yourself a boost.
Speaking about her national ’happiest person’ accolade, Shonette said: “I am really proud to have been recognised by the Independent. I do class myself as having extreme happiness. I love Mondays and I don’t long for holidays. I have gratitude for everything in my life.
“I have had challenges in my life having been divorced twice, but I am able to flip difficult situations with positive psychology and see the good in every situation.”
Shonette is a motivational speaker who was nominated for the Independent award by Karen Grave, President of the PPMA (Public Services People Managers Association), who said: “I first met Shonette at a conference in Scotland and was so blown away by her performance that I booked her for our annual PPMA conference and gala dinner, where she was our Awards compere.
“She had a massive and long lasting effect on the conference attendees. It was important to have the science of happiness and its impact on people, work and engagement bought to life for our leaders and she was simply magic. She touched many of us on a deeply personal level.”
“I am thrilled to bits she features on the Independent’s list of happiest people in the UK. That list of about 50 people is a reminder there is profound good in the world and Shonette is a superstar.”