Media release: Mother diagnosed with life-changing condition launches pioneering pre-schoolers’ well-being ‘digital toolbox’

Wee Seeds Founder Christina Cran and son Fin, aged 7 - October 2019

A MOTHER diagnosed with a life-changing condition that left her toddler son suffering worry and anxiety, and kick-started her entrepreneurial journey to help other pre-schoolers, is unveiling her new ‘digital well-being toolkit’ for early years kids today (Tuesday).

October 1st marks five years since Christina Cran and her family’s world was turned upside down with her diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes, an auto-immune condition that left her dependant on insulin through injections or insulin pump for the rest of her life.

Struggling with her diagnosis, both physically and mentally, she started to use a meditation app – within a month she could feel the benefits.

But she said: “I realised our son, Fin, who was two-and-a-half at the time, was struggling, asking if mum was going to die or be taken to hospital. I wanted to help him but couldn’t find anything specifically aimed at his age group.”

So, she founded Wee Seeds – (1) – which officially launches today with its first-ever digital exercises aimed at helping parents and professionals plant the seeds of calm, focus, kindness, and sleep in the early years through mindfulness and mediation techniques.

The launch comes thanks to support from various organisations (2), including Scottish Enterprise, Business Gateway, the Melting Pot, the University of Edinburgh and Napier University, with seed-funding from UnLtd and £7,000 worth of financial backing from 123 crowd-funders. It follows on the heels of a successful prototype last year (3).

Parents and professionals are being urged to sign up for the free exercises before the end of November, as it’s likely Wee Seeds will introduce a subscription model – with a Buy-One-Give-One-Away function to help families in need – before the end of the year.

Meditation and mindfulness are now widely used in schools, universities and workplaces – but Wee Seeds exists to bring this to early years children.

Studies in America show that these types of practices can affect pre-schoolers’ children’s focus, attention, sense of calm and kindness. Early intervention changes lives: 50 per cent of all mental health problems are established by the age of 14. (4).

Christina said: “Fin learned mindfulness and meditation techniques through me making up games for us to play – but now they’re a valuable life skill.

“He uses his breathing skills to focus and as a calming technique, and sometimes sits with me to meditate.

“Learning to take a break in our 24/7 world is good for our physical, mental and emotional well-being and planting these seeds of self-care in the early years are as important as teaching kids to read and write.

“Today marks five years since I was diagnosed – my annual dia-versary – and my life changed forever.

“So, it seems appropriate to mark that with the launch of Wee Seeds! To bring this to life I’ve had the pleasure of working with some amazingly talented people – and received incredible support through the Scottish eco-system. I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve achieve on a skeleton team, with very little money.”

She added: “At the root of Wee Seeds is our new digital toolbox to help parents plant the seeds of calm, focus and sleep in the early years. But it’s more than just a web-app. We want to help nurture pre-schoolers’ emotional, mental and physical well-being, and grow family connections through mindfulness and meditation.

“And it’s not just parents and carers who can use these tools – our launch also marks the start of trials in nurseries across Scotland and England. We’re asking parents and nurseries to report back on their experiences, and that feedback will inform the delivery of Wee Seeds Version 2.0.”

She added: “This next stage is funding-dependant. We’ve bootstrapped for a few years now – and need to harvest some pennies now. All our user testing shows Wee Seeds has solid roots. We just need that backing now to help us grow.”

Christina’s vision for the digital tools have been brought to life by Scottish designer, Emma Chapman, and award-winning creative agency, Primate, with support from voice artist, Matthew Dudley, pre-school yoga teacher, Rhona Bythell, and, seven-year-olds, Fin and Jocelyn, who voiced ‘Bug Yoga’ and ‘Heart to Heart’.

And from Lorna Walker, well-being specialist and founder of Compassionate System and former creative director of Youth Mindfulness, who is the voice behind Wee Seed’s audio guided meditations.

She said: “Wee Seeds is a real gift for families and young people.

“Mindfulness and yoga have such potential to grow calm, kindness and emotional literacy; and starting that cultivation early is so beneficial. What’s even more gorgeous about this app is that it grows connection in families; between the child and whoever is supporting them. It’s a small step towards growing more compassionate communities and this is such a beautiful aspiration.

She added: “As a contributor, I’ve been struck by the heartfelt, authentic wish of the founder, Christina, to bring into being a way to support the growth of these practices for children. I’m proud to have been a small part of that.”

Emma Chapman, art director and designer, who has worked with Headspace, Dove and Orange, has brought the new brand and first wave of digital exercises to life.

Designing the new Wee Seeds brand had, she explained, been about creating a world that helped families find some peace and space together, rooted in two key elements: science and emotion.

“Breaking it down into heart and head,” she said: “The ‘heart’ of the Wee Seeds brand is a fun, relatable world of characters that guide kids and adults through a series of short mindful exercises. With the science, the ‘head’ of the branding, I wanted to look at how emotions are visually represented in science.

“There are three main building blocks for the design – shape, colour and character. The shapes are developed from very early stage basic line drawings, representing the eight main emotions: Trust, Happiness, Sadness, Disgust, Surprise, Fear, Anger and Shyness. The colours are a twist on the scientific colour wheel, which identifies the perceived relationship between colour and emotion.

“The new Wee Seeds logo – the wee seed, ‘Sprout’ – and supporting characters were then developed to combine both the head and heart, shape and colour, into relatable, fun characters to bring to life the new digital exercises aimed at encouraging kids and adults to take a moment out their day.”

The Wee Seeds exercises are being offered free of charge until the end of November. After this it may move onto a subscription model, with a Buy One Give One Away function – meaning subscribers would pay it forward, thereby allowing Wee Seeds to work in partnership with charities to donate free subscriptions to children and families that might benefit from Wee Seeds exercises.


Notes for editors:

1. Wee Seeds exists to give parents and professionals innovative, inspiring and practical tools to plant and nurture the seeds of mindfulness, meditation and movement in pre-schoolers. These will be delivered through the new online platform. Wee Seeds will operate a Buy One, Give One Away model to give free subscriptions to families who need free access.

2. Wee Seeds and its founder, Christina Cran, has received support from: Business Gateway; The Melting Pot’s Good Ideas programme; UnLtd; Scottish Enterprise; Seedbed; Edinburgh Napier University; The University of Edinburgh’s Mastercard Foundation Programme; UXL Ltd; 123 crowdfunders; students Zoë, Sydney and Louise; and Dr Vee Freir, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Co-ordinator for the NHS Mindfulness Project.

3. Before the current version of Wee Seeds was built 15 families took part in the Wee Seeds prototype testing during summer 2018. 75 per cent of parents reported a positive difference in their child becoming more ‘calm’, ‘more in control of themselves’, ‘easier to put to bed’ and helping them to ‘focus on the positive’ and ‘control levels of frustration and anger’ and 75 per cent parents reported a difference in themselves, feeling calmer and enjoying spending time with their children. Current user testing of new web-app has been 100 per cent positive!

4. Kessler RC, Berglund P, Demler O, Jin R, Merikangas KR, Walters EE. (2005). Lifetime Prevalence and Age-of-Onset Distributions of DSM-IV Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Archives of General Psychiatry, 62 (6) pp. 593-602. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.62.6.593


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