Bird on a Wire star Goldie Hawn comes to Hackney

Legendary film star Goldie Hawn brought her charismatic enthusiasm and joy to Hackney youngsters on Monday, giving them life lessons on how to be peaceful citizens and how to walk away from bullies.

The still-stunning 67-year old actress, director, and producer stopped off at Lauriston School to see the Hawn Foundation’s MindUP programme in action, which teaches Buddhist techniques of mindfulness.

Hawn founded the organisation seven years ago to pursue her vision of nurturing happiness, joy and empathy and to promote children’s academic success through emotional learning.

Despite only being implemented in the school two months ago, teachers and governors at the school in Rutland Road are astounded at the impact it’s making.

The Private Benjamin star began by discussing how the brain affects our emotions with a class of six and seven-year olds, who wowed her with their knowledge of the amygdala and pre-frontal cortex.

“Oh I love you, I’m going to give you a kiss because you are so amazing,” she told one little boy who explained how anger kicks in when the amygdala overreacts.

Hawn was clearly moved by a Year 5 poetry performance about soldiers who fought in World War One: “Well this was really extraordinary,” she said.

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“You’ve worked hard on this, your performances were all so committed, did you really feel your character this morning?” she asked them, to which they unanimously agreed.

“What we are talking about is empathy, empathy is something you feel for others.

“And what an interesting thing, because war is a very terrible thing. Who fights wars?

People. And who starts wars? People. Because who makes up the government? People.

“So we are all just people, so we have to make sure that you leaders of tomorrow will literally become the greatest people you can be and you can be peace,” she told them.

Hawn led a Year six class in a ‘brain break’, sitting cross legged on the floor.

Signalled by a bell, children focus on their breathing and remain still for several minutes until the bell rings again.

“Our brains are actually working all the time, the brain never turns off, we have to help our brain calm down, even when we are sleeping our brains are at work,” explained Ms Hawn.

“So it’s really a good thing to do this, it helps you be more creative it helps you learn better, it helps you remember more, we do this three times a day, guys you are going to love this.”

Before she left, she told the Gazette: “I just think this school is amazing, these children are so receptive, I mean they are really going to do well, and they have only just started implementing it.

“And you know frankly when people say aren’t they young to learn about their brains, and I have seven-year olds explaining how the brain works, I was almost brought to tears, so there’s great work at this school.

“It’s such a happy school too, children need that for their joy levels.”

The Hawn Foundation began work in Hackney two years ago with Nightingale Primary School in Hackney Wick, and after seeing fantastic results with students and teachers, decided to work with a cluster of schools in Hackney.

Now seven schools are following the programme, as part of 20 schools in London.